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From the Desk of Dr. Charles Murphy: February 18, 2011

A few weeks ago I attended an Island Trees Library Board meeting. Clearly, sitting in the audience observing the meeting dynamics was a new experience for me. It’s a lot easier watching the interaction between the Library Board and public than being directly involved. At the meeting, there was a motion and vote that supported an earlier library closing time on Friday evening. Apparently several years ago, the Island Trees library extended their hours from 7 to 9 p.m. Unfortunately, due to concerns about budgeting, funding and taxpayer affordability, the library will revert back to the 7 p.m. closing time on Friday night. Admittedly, this was a very tough decision for all involved in the decision-making. Naturally, many people in the audience were upset by the decision; however, understandably in these difficult times, difficult decisions will be made.

The reality is that I learned a lot about our community library. After the meeting, I went to the Island Trees Library website http://www.islandtreespubliclibrary.org/index.php to look at the programs offered to our children. I wanted to see how the change in closing time would truly impact the programs and services offered to the community. Well, I knew the library had many wonderful programs for children and adults. In short, it is unbelievable! The Island Trees library has so many outstanding programs running on a regular basis for the children of Island Trees. It is quite impressive. There is so much more for children than what we all experienced years ago.

I recall my weekly trips with my father to the Bar Harbour - Massapequa Park library. It was the “Bar Harbour” library spelled H-a-r-b-o-u-r on Harbor Lane H-a-r-b-o-r. Talking about trying to confuse kids I’ll never understand that one. At the time, the children’s room was located downstairs in the basement. Maybe it still is… I have not been there in thirty years, but if you remember the old adage, “Children should be seen not heard.” Well we were neither – seen nor heard, especially since our librarian’s name was Mrs. Shhh-shhh. “Oh look at this book” – shhh-shhh. Squeaking sneakers – shhh-shhh! Pages turning – shhh-shhh! This was the children’s section, not the adult section, and we were there to enjoy the book collection. Oh how I would love to go back in time and let Mrs. Shhh-shhh know that the books down in the basement were purchased for the kids and not for her own private use.

Today public libraries, especially the Island Trees library, are much more “child-friendly.” Mrs. Shhh-shhh has long since retired. Naturally, we want kids to touch the books….review the books…and read the books. Imagine that! Additionally, we want our children exposed to all of the wonderful programs held at the public library. They have programs for infants and for seniors and for everyone in between. They offer yoga, and tax assistance, and story time for the young and the old. And of course, access to thousands and thousands of books countywide.

Indeed, we are fortunate in this country to have outstanding public libraries. They are truly wonderful resources for our communities and the Island Trees Public Library is no exception. Well, I’m going back to finish reading Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin” shhh-shhh.