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Library's 'Answer Man,' Irving Adelman, 84, dies

Librarian Irving Adelman died March 25, 2010 at

Librarian Irving Adelman died March 25, 2010 at his Hicksville home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 84. Newsday's obituary for Irving Adelman
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In the days before Google, if you were a Long Islander with a nagging question, there was one person to ask: Irving Adelman, longtime reference librarian at the East Meadow Public Library.

The Answer Man, he was called.

"He had a thirst for knowledge," said his younger son Mark Adelman, of Seaford. "He just read so many books."

Adelman died Thursday at his Hicksville home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 84.

Born in New London, Conn., Adelman grew up in Rutland, Vt., and graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in English. He later pursued a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University, as well as a master's degree in library science.

He met Florence Less at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and they married in 1953.

After a stint working in public libraries in Brooklyn and California, Adelman started working at the East Meadow library in 1958. He spent his career there, as head reference librarian and assistant director.

He and fellow librarian Rita Dworkin wrote three annotated bibliographies together. "He was the best reference librarian possible," Dworkin said. "He never gave up till he found what the person needed. He was doing something he loved."

Library patrons, students and professionals seeking answers would contact the East Meadow library with questions about topics ranging from ancient history to the most modern pop culture.

One of the most frequent questions the library fielded was the names of the Seven Dwarves, Adelman told Newsday in a 1989 profile.

"He was the only person you talked [to] who loved his job," Mark Adelman said. "He was all about helping people."

In his free time, Adelman would take Mark and older son Steve, now 53 and of Hicksville, to watch his beloved Jets practice at Hofstra University's fields. After he retired in 1998, he and his wife traveled and stayed active playing golf. Florence Adelman died in 2005.

"He was just wonderful and everybody loved him," said Mark Adelman, calling his father "a nice, honest person."

Besides his sons, Adelman is survived by one granddaughter.

A funeral service is planned for Sunday at noon at Gutterman's, 8000 Jericho Tpke. in Woodbury, with burial to follow at Wellwood Cemetery in Pinelawn.

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