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‘Little library box’ book program makes splash at Oceanside Pool

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Visitors to libraries, parks, pools and beaches around the Town of Hempstead will soon be able to pluck free books from "little library boxes" (and donate some too), Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino announced on Aug. 2, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

Town of Hempstead residents who want to squeeze in some poolside or park-bench reading can now pull a book from new “little library boxes.”

The Town of Hempstead has partnered with local libraries to install 16 boxes with selections for children, teens and adults that residents can borrow for free and return when they’re done, said Town Supervisor Anthony Santino at Oceanside pool Wednesday. The boxes are available at locations across the town, including Oceanside Pool, Veterans Memorial Park in East Meadow and Coes Neck Park in Baldwin.

“A parent can enjoy a novel while the kids take a swim lesson, a child can enjoy some quiet time reading a picture book, and parents can read to youngsters while older siblings are playing sports,” said Santino, who was joined by town council members and representatives from Oceanside Library.

The town is also working on requests to build at least nine additional boxes, said Mike Deery, a town spokesman. The box at Oceanside Pool held about 20 books, including Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” a James Patterson thriller and “Marley & Me,” the story of a family and its Labrador retriever. Various town libraries and Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology have donated books to stock the boxes, but residents can also contribute by bringing spare books to participating parks or pools.

Similar library box programs operate at Town of Huntington beaches, along the Long Beach boardwalk and in other Long Island communities.

Santino said he hopes the boxes also remind residents of the valuable programs and services still available at their local libraries at a time when many readers may choose Kindles and iPads over traditional books.

“We are so honored and happy as residents of this community and representatives of the library to have this wonderful project,” said Chris Marra, head of children’s services for Oceanside Library. “To promote reading throughout our community is invaluable.”

Tommy Beirne, an Oceanside Library trustee, said the program can boost literacy and “gives the kids a hard copy book in their hands to read.” Beirne’s daughter Kiersten, 12, and son Dylan, 10, joined him Wednesday to donate three library books to the pool’s box: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and books in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Finding Nemo” series.

“It’s a great way to share, bring the community together involved in learning,” Beirne said.

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