Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:00
Newspapers and magazines are available at many Long Island Rail Road train stations. But in New Hyde Park, there is something additional for commuters – a bookshelf, thanks to residents Katina Grigoraskos and Carmin Perrone.
Grigoraskos and Perrone installed a New Hyde Park Community Bookshelf at the New Hyde Park train station. The two joined forces with the LIRR and “jazzed the station up a bit,” getting donations from Hillside Public Library.
The idea came to fruition when Perrone was getting rid of her bookshelf and the two thought to put it to good use. Grigoraskos and Perrone reached out to the train station manager Jennifer Uihlein.
Friends, neighbors and the two women donated books. Books can be dropped off anytime during open hours.
“You can take a book and leave a book,” Perrone said. Grigoraskos said the plan is based on the “honor system,” meaning it’s up to the person to return the book. The station refinished the bookshelf and installed it.
Perrone is a speech therapist at Lyons Community School in Brooklyn and Grigoraskos teaches English to Japanese students at Be Fluent NYC in Manhattan.
“I’m a commuter and I was at the [New Hyde Park] station one morning and I saw where the schedules were,” Mayor Robert Lofaro said. “They were moved to the counter and there was a children’s bookcase there and it said ‘New Hyde Park Community Bookshelf.’ I was curious about it.”
The women sent an email to the village asking for help. Lofaro answered.
“I thought it was a great addition to the station,” said Lofaro. “Those are the elements that make a building personal. I was so delighted to hear from [Grigoraskos and Perrone]. I was curious where these [books] came from and I thank them for their efforts. Those types of community elements make a big difference.”
Hillside Library Director Nylah Schneider said the library was all for donating to a cause for literature. The library donated 25 books to the bookshelf.
“They’re doing a wonderful service to the community,” Schneider said. “We were happy to donate these books so more people could take advantage of reading.”
The women found community bookshelves are popular on the West Coast.
Eileen Tabios, Meritage Press publisher in California, takes a different angle on community bookshelves, running an e-bookshelf online, focusing on poetry books.
Tabios frequents two coffee shops in St. Helena and Calistoga, CA. Two community bookshelves grace their counters in Napa Valley.
"They allocate a part of their space,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of turnover. It’s successful. The e-bookshelf that I do focuses on poetry, which is a smaller niche. Quite often what I do, I don’t mind sharing. I see one or two copies of books I publish at the coffee shop and the next thing I know, they’re gone.”
The Calistoga Roastery sports a full bookshelf, with multiple books for the taking. Tabios thinks community bookshelves are a quick way to come across books you may not read. The convenience of it is what draws people to them.
“You’re not going out of your way to buy books. You’re at a coffee shop and hey, it happens to be there. It’s free and it helps in today’s economy. I do it online. I’ll get emails from people asking ‘hey, do you have a copy of this.’”
The ultimate end game of this initiative for Grigoraskos and Perrone is to have bookshelves in all LIRR train stations.
“We would love to see [the bookshelves] in all stations if possible,” Perrone said. “To get more books…get more involved,” said Grigoraskos.