Value of the public library reasserted

Michael Sperling, Contributing Writer

It would be an understatement to say that the public library in Port Washington was helpful during the time after Hurricane Sandy.

Not only did it function as a public facility to many powerless families, but it also became a home to many of those who would rather not freeze.

Every day after school, students and adults alike flood to the library either for its resources or simply to find a quiet place to do work.  However, over those few days after Sandy, the library became overcrowded with fights over outlets.

“When I went to the library, it was packed and there were no more seats left,” said senior Emma Brezel.  “I wanted to charge my phone but there were no outlets left but luckily, the library had set up extra outlets and I was able to find a place to work.”

With nearly the entire town without power, the few places that were functioning properly, such as the library, became infested with people looking for the opportunity to relax and charge their electronics.

Yet, as time went by and people still did not regain power, the library did not simply become a place to charge phones, but more of a place to escape and to get out of the house.

“I didn’t go to the library during the storm but I didn’t have power for twelve days,” said senior Leah Weingast. “It was really nice how the community came together.  The activity center at Schreiber and the library were great places to spend time at.  The teachers at Schreiber were also really understanding with assignments and projects after the storm.”

The library was warm, it had power, and it even had access to the media section.  What else could you possible need?

In addition, thanks to the generous organizations in town that were providing food and water to those who could not obtain it, people were actually allowed to eat in the library.  In fact, the library was comforting to the extent that shoes were even optional, which something that I thought I would never see.

The strange thing about it all is that, after Sandy, people started to see the same folks at the library repeatedly with their families and electronics.  At first you don’t think anything of it, but as you see children running around and playing together, and adults laughing over cups of hot chocolate, it’s clear that the library became something more than a shelter for those who were affected by the storm. It became almost a place to reignite the spirit of the community in this town.  Not to say that there was never a sense of community, but the library was able to bring these feelings out in all of us in the same place.

“The overly crowded library was reminiscent of the Schreiber cafeteria in that all the chairs were taken, causing students to sit on the floor with their laptops,” said senior Jillian Knoll.  “Many were charging at the nearest outlet in panic and would not subside until they could check all of their social networking sties and finish their homework before the library closed.”

There is no coincidence that it has been said that disaster brings people together and that is exactly what the library was there for. They gave power to the powerless and company to the lonely during this trying time of eighteenth century life.