Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
If anyone were to ask if public libraries are relevant now, ask the thousands of people who came to Syosset Public Library after Hurricane Sandy.
By Wednesday morning, Oct. 31, the library was open and people began streaming in, grateful for heat, light and electricity. Besides the need for power, the library brought together hundreds of people who were reeling from the destruction of the hurricane. By 10 a.m., most of the hundreds of outlets in the library were being used to charge electronic devices and even for emergency medical equipment such as nebulizers.
Being able to communicate with family members and friends was the number one priority on those first days after the storm, in addition to calling emergency agencies, doctors, pharmacies and employers. The library was able to provide information about the storm, the upcoming election and what was going on in the world beyond the hurricane area. Family members also came to the library, viewed as a safe haven, when concern for infants, the elderly and sick people without heat became critical.
As days passed, still without power and now without gas for their cars, people were using the library as a place to gather for reading, talking and working, and just telling their storm stories to others.
“So many patrons thanked us, the staff, for being here for them. We are grateful that we were able to be a refuge for the community, and although we all hope this never happens again, we will continue to serve the residents in any way that we can,” said Library Director Karen Liebman.