Medium's visit to Long Island library raises hairs

Adrienne DeSalvo, a spiritual counselor and psychic medium. Adrienne DeSalvo, a spiritual counselor and psychic medium. (Oct. 23, 2013) Photo Credit: handout

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A psychic appearing at the Hauppauge Public Library who purports to summon the dead is raising hackles among the living.

Hauppauge resident Dan Simon has challenged the library's plan to spend $450 to hire psychic medium Adrienne DeSalvo for a talk, "The Afterlife with Adrienne," scheduled before a full house tomorrow night.

Simon said he's concerned about using taxpayer money for what he believes is someone scamming the district. "I'm not comfortable with the library holding a religious event," Simon said. "And primarily I feel it's a scam. She's pretending to contact people's dead relatives."

DeSalvo, a Babylon native who lives in Woodstock, N.Y., said the event is "educational" and is not intended to be religious. She said there will be "communication" with audience members during the 90-minute lecture, but no private sessions. "I welcome the skeptics," she said."I don't mind it because there are different perspectives."

Library director Matthew Bollerman said the free event, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., is being billed as entertainment. A library patron suggested the event, which was so popular that there was a waiting list. "We didn't view this as anything more than giving people the opportunity to have this experience," Bollerman said.

Library patron Linda Mark of Hauppauge said she appreciates the opportunity to expand her horizons. "The library is giving you the chance to find different knowledge and an opportunity to pursue different things," said Mark, who has signed up for the event. "If you taste it, you can say 'this isn't for me.' But the library's response is not to do censorship."

Long Island is known for its psychics, thanks in part to Theresa Caputo, star of the popular TLC reality show "Long Island Medium."

And other libraries -- including Glen Cove, East Meadow and Seaford -- have recently booked psychic events.

"One of the roles of the library is to offer a wide array of programming to appeal to people," said Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System.

The library's board of trustees backs Bollerman. "We do not validate or endorse what is said by this person," president Steve Bard said of DeSalvo. "But many people do enjoy the program, so we have the program."

Simon contacted the secular humanist nonprofit Center for Inquiry in Washington, D.C., which sent the library a letter of protest. "There's absolutely no evidence that anyone has ever communed with the dead in any way," CFI legal director Nicholas Little said. "This is a public institution spending taxpayer dollars, endorsing something that has no scientific basis."

Simon said he suggested other speakers for the event to "make it more educational," but Bollerman said that is not possible at this stage.

"If people want to pay psychics, that's their right. But for the library to pay her and market this event, I don't feel it's right," Simon says."Some people may be very gullible," Simon said. "The idea to be able to contact lost loved ones is very powerful, and I think she's really preying on those emotions."

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