Wyandanch Public Library officials recently announced that they will use a tent...

Wyandanch Public Library officials recently announced that they will use a tent outside on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four hours each day for printing, scanning, faxing, reference, library card signups/renewals and limited book checkouts. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The Wyandanch library, which has been closed since the pandemic started, must resume in-person services by June 1, according to a new directive from the state.

On April 23, the state Department of Education notified all public libraries that they must open for a minimum number of hours per week, based on the population they serve. For Wyandanch it is 35 hours.

The Wyandanch Public Library has remained closed while all of the more than 100 libraries on Long Island have reopened in some form — even if only for curbside service — since September. Directors from the Suffolk and Nassau library systems said that all Suffolk libraries and all but a few Nassau libraries are already meeting their minimum hours.

The state directive says that "open hours" are defined as "any time a patron receives direct, in-person services" and can include curbside, lobby and onsite services. Email and telephone services alone cannot be included.

"Libraries are critically important to communities, and the Department is encouraged to see the majority of libraries across the state reintroducing services and reopening," department officials said in a statement, adding they will work with libraries to meet the requirements.

Wyandanch library board president Ghenya Grant and trustee Nancy Holliday, who chairs the library’s building and grounds committee, have said the 36-year-old HVAC system is in disrepair and it would be unsafe to have staff or the public in the building.

Wyandanch has online and some outdoor programming, along with the county’s SLED library RV twice a month for some services. Last week the library announced it is now starting to use a tent outside on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four hours each day for printing, scanning, faxing, reference, library card signups/renewals and limited book checkouts.

State education department officials wrote in an email that outside services will count toward open hours.

When Grant was asked if the library had a reopening plan, Pauline Barfield, president of the library’s Brooklyn-based public relations firm, said in a statement that the board is "conferring with the Engineering Firm and need more time to solidify their plans."

In September, Savin Engineers of Hauppauge evaluated the HVAC system, whose problems go back years, saying there is inadequate airflow and improper ventilation in half of the building, but stopped short of recommending that no one go inside.

The library’s state Senate and Assembly representatives said they had not heard from library officials about the June 1 deadline. They said they were given a $1.2 million estimate for repairs from library officials last fall when asked about obtaining funding.

Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights) said the library has not given information on how officials plan to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars of labor costs for the HVAC work, which cannot be funded with capital dollars.

"They gave us a big project list, but nothing specific as to what they need to open safely," Jean-Pierre said. "We’re all trying to get them money, but it’s not going to fully fund the project."

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