Long Island Libraries Reclaim their Positions as Community Centers Post-Pandemic

By Kelsie Radziski and Ashley Pavlakis

The North Bellmore Public Library opened a new “innovation room” in an effort to bring more patrons into the library.

“It’s to intertwine community with technology and get everyone involved, [including] people who may not be able to afford this technology,” James Luberto, an assistant director at North Bellmore Public Library, said about their new innovation room. “Whatever they’re working on, we can provide that service for them.” 

A major step for libraries in connecting with the community is making technological services easier to use and access and helping patrons learn new skills, as stated by Princh, a mobile print and payment company. Technology is not openly available to everyone, so libraries offering usage of up-to-date devices caters to all community members, which is what libraries are trying to do.



A 2022 study showed rates of online library usage have increased since the pandemic, and libraries are working on bringing in-person rates back up.

“While we do have a lot of in person programming, we are continuing with the digital and virtual services that a lot of people came to depend on through the pandemic,” Jessica Tymecki, the director of the North Bellmore Public Library, said. “[But] right now as we’re coming out on the other side of [the pandemic] we’re continuing to make a lot of changes to get the community back in the building.”`

Implementing new digital resources and programs for people of all ages increases the outreach of libraries and brings in more of the community, which staff members have seen firsthand.

“I started working here post pandemic and I’ve watched patron numbers increase over the past year,” Eric Gaertner, the head custodian at North Bellmore Public Library, said. “Since I started working here, we’ve added things like a children’s play area and innovation room, where young adults can come learn how to use all this new tech.”

Libraries have played a crucial role in the development of young children, shown by a study published in 2021. Child development revolves around social, emotional, and educational needs being met, and experts agree that libraries can provide services that encourage healthy development. 

“The fact that libraries have programs that are free, that are right in their community…that’s getting kids socialization, it’s giving them language skills, musical programs, [these] are so good for kids’ brain development,” Nicole Chiuchiolo, a 25-year school psychologist at Western Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), said. 

Programs and services offered by libraries are beneficial to the health and well-being of community members, according to a study published in July 2021. Providing informative events, personal assistance, and countless resources, identify libraries as a community pillar. 

Libraries are a community staple where people can go to get work done or hang out with friends; there is a level of comfort felt by those who take advantage of the public resources. 

“The library has been a home away from home for me [for] as long as I could remember, “ Erinrose Patruno, a West Babylon Public Library patron, said. “From attending events as a child, reading and playing games in our very own section, to upgrading to the adult section and diving into a much bigger selection of books. It’s always provided a feeling of comfort and nostalgia that I just can’t find anywhere else.” 

About Kelsie Radziski 4 Articles
Kelsie is a graduate student at Stony Brook University working on getting her master's degree in journalism.