On October 21, 1974, the Connetquot district covering an area of 21.1 square miles, voted in favor of establishing a library with a $175,000 budget. The five trustees elected were James Bunting, Robert Dennis, Susan Furfaro, Eileen McArthur and John Randazzo. The Board began working on securing a charter, preparing by-laws, and hiring a director for the library.
In January 1975, the first library director, Joy Meisels, was hired. There was much discussion on the location of the library; a site just south of the school district administration building was chosen and designated by the school district for library use.
While the module buildings were being placed and utility lines installed, a small library staff working on the 2nd floor of the school administration building ordered and processed thousands of books for the new library. The first book processed was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, which is now on display here at the library. With a grant from the New York State Division of Library Development, $50,000 in reference materials was purchased. All finished books were housed at the Edith Slocum School in Ronkonkoma until the library building was ready for occupancy.
On Monday July 14, 1975, a dreary overcast day, the long awaited grand opening took place. In spite of the weather, more than 1,000 residents came in that first day to sign up for a Connetquot Library Card or to register for the Summer Reading Club. Although the library collection held over 10,000 items, the staff was concerned that they might run out of books before the day ended.
The following July with a new director, Joan Zaleski, research was begun to acquire a permanent building for the library. In December 1976, residents approved a referendum to seek federal funds to build a library. Originally $1,200,000 in funds from the Public Works Capital Development and Investment Program was asked for, but in October 1977, $598,000 was granted. With this free money from the government, ground was broken on a 16,000 square foot one-storied building in December 1977, designed by district resident, architect Ronald Benedict.
Opening on November 28, 1978, this spacious facility added room for thousands of books, records and periodicals to the growing library collection as well as allowing the library to offer additional programs to the community. The programs ranged from craft workshops, plays and story hours, to films, animals shows and live musical entertainment. Many of the programs took place on the lawn (where patrons were asked to bring their own lawn chairs) or among the public reading area.
In order to complete the library’s transition to a community center, voters approved an $800,000 expansion to construct a much-needed Community Room and to increase the size of the Children’s Library in October 1984. This section of the library opened in the Fall of 1986 and gave the library an opportunity to offer a greater number of programs in a designated space, thereby not disrupting those who came to the library to read or study.
During the 1980’s, advancements in audio-visual technology brought changes to library’s collection. The musical record collection, containing a wide variety of titles to suit all tastes, was transferred to audio cassette and ultimately to CDs. Books became available on cassettes allowing readers with limited sight, drivers who enjoy listening while they travel, and others the opportunity to experience a good book. Today, this collection includes Books on CD to keep up with the new trends in listening pleasure.
Also in the ‘80’s, motion pictures and instructional films were available on VHS video cassette and the public’s response to circulating these materials was overwhelming. The VHS collection has grown steadily over the years becoming one of the largest library-owned collections on Long Island. Patrons can find many films in all genres as well as a large non-fiction collection of biographies, self-help, and instructional titles. In keeping up with technology, the library now orders films mainly in DVD format.
In 1992, a computerized catalog replaced the old paper card catalog. Instead of shuffling through drawers upon drawers of cards, library users could now search thousands of materials much faster. Today, the catalog has evolved into a research tool that allows patrons to find reviews and summaries of each item as well as if the material was checked out and when it is due to be returned. Users can now place holds on books or renew them from home.
In the 1990s, computers became as essential as pencil and paper. The library kept pace with the technology converting from Commodore 64 and Apple computers to the high tech Dell computers you see at the library today. Circulating CD-ROMs were added to the collection which enabled patrons to experience new and interesting software at home. Popular computer programs are offered each month at the library on topics such as word processing, database searching, graphic design, and Internet use and safety. The library also offers ongoing one-on-one Internet training sessions for the beginning user.
The evolution of the Internet in the twenty-first century has brought great changes to the library. Reference questions could now be asked in person, via telephone or through email. The library Internet homepage was developed to display information on library services and to provide an organized pathway to the vast amount of information available on the World Wide Web. High-speed Internet access and wireless Internet within the building have enabled patrons to search a world of information quickly and easily. Additionally, reference databases used for research are able to be accessed from home as well as the library.
With the increased need for up-to-date technology, the public approved a three million dollar bond issue to expand the existing building and add over 20,800 feet of space for more shelving, more computers, more seating areas and more restrooms in October 1997. This new reference area, opening in March 2001 was designed to enhance computer use and allow for a comfortable and enjoyable place to study and read. Tiled floors in the older sections of the library were replaced by carpet and the Children’s Library was later expanded to add a larger computer area and play space for preschoolers.
As the building and its contents have grown, so has the staff. The library began with just three employees – a director, a secretary, and a library clerk. Today, the staff consists of a new director, Kimberly DeCristofaro, and more than 95 employees, mostly part-time and district residents. They are divided into Circulation, Adult Services, Children’s Services, Computer Services, Mainteance, Technical Services, Pages, and Administration.
Through the years your library has grown from a one-room building into a spacious community center. Patrons can be proud of the staff and trustees who have worked hard for the last 30 years to create and maintain a wonderful modern library resource center.