The Wyandanch Public Library, which remains the only public library on Long Island not to reopen since the pandemic began, is hoping to soon return limited services to the community through a mobile library RV.
Wyandanch is looking to use the Suffolk Cooperative Library System’s SLED (Suffolk Libraries Empowering Discovery) RV once or twice a week. The SLED RV is a high-tech mobile library that was purchased early last year as a way for libraries to expand their services throughout the community, said Suffolk’s Kevin Verbesey. The 53-foot-long RV has multiple screens, gaming consoles and iPads, which patrons can use to check out or download books, do research or check email, he said. The RV will arrive with one professional staff member who will work with Wyandanch staff, Verbesey said.
"We want to get this out very soon to the community and promote it and get everybody excited about library services again," library director Shadd Jamison said at a board meeting last week.
Board president Ghenya Grant has said the library, one of 56 in Suffolk, remains closed to protect employees and the community due to problems with the HVAC system in light of COVID-19. Last week the library held a public meeting with consultant Savin Engineers of Hauppauge.
Savin’s Carlos Valdez said "half of the building doesn’t have proper ventilation" because one of the system’s units is down. He said the HVAC dates to the building’s construction in 1985.
"Could have the unit been maintained better?" said Savin’s Mike Melocoton. "Sure, any unit could be maintained better, but it is truly at the end of its life expectancy."
Melocoton said the system is "compromised with water damage" and the airflow is not adequate. He displayed a chart showing the library is taking in less than half the minimum amount of outside air required under the state’s mechanical code. He said he would not recommend using the building as a space for the community to gather, but is "not recommending that people don’t go into the building."
"How the library uses it in a fashion of having five or six people, workers, in there, that’s up to them," he said.
Grant said "there are times when people need to be in the building to keep things running," including herself. However, she said, "I’m not going to file a workers’ comp claim … or bring litigation" from being in the building. She said that insisting employees come in is "something that would definitely put us in a precarious situation."
Some residents and state representatives have called on the library to begin curbside services that wouldn’t involve many employees.
Grant said last week that curbside service "requires staff members to be in close proximity for an extended period of time."
Grant did not say how much the HVAC work will cost, but state representatives said they have been given a $1.2 million estimate. It remains unclear how the library will obtain that money. They have asked state representatives for assistance, but labor costs, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, cannot be paid through those funds.