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Bay Shore people: Library director Eileen Kavanagh

Eileen Kavanagh is director of the Bay Shore-Brightwaters

Eileen Kavanagh is director of the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library. (April 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

Eileen Kavanagh, 65, Bay Shore
Director
Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library

How long have you been with the library?
I became library director in 1991. I have worked here since 1970.

How long have you lived in Bay Shore?
Since 1989.

Did you work at other libraries before coming here?
I worked at the Farmingdale Library when I was in high school and then also for a year after college, and then I came here.

What made you want to move here?
This is a great community that loves its library. It’s communities that form libraries and in the late 1890s, the community here started a cooperative free reading room in one of the resort hotels. People contributed books and eventually started raising money to build a library. It’s their library and it has stayed the way that they want it.

Have there been recent changes or innovations?
The building is recent. It was voted on in 2005 and we asked the community what they wanted and we think they have been very happy with the results. The old building is still at the heart of it, we built around it.

In fact, last summer, we had people who had out-of-town summer guests bring them to the library to see it. We started to get used to it, being a part of the tour. That’s a lovely thing. I never had people come stop over to see the library when they were visiting before.

How does the community use the library?
In so many different ways. It’s a resource center, a community center. This is not an incorporated town or village. The only thing unifying is the school district or the fire district. We don’t have a town hall or any other central place, so this is it. A lot of people don’t get the newspaper delivered at home, so they come to the library to read it.

Lots of community organizations meet here and they have been for going on 50 years. We post and disseminate information for them.

Pretty much anything that’s going on, we hear about it over the circulation desk. People come in here and they talk.

Being a resident, what do you love about the Bay Shore community?
It’s a really wonderful, supportive community. I can’t imagine a more rewarding 40-plus years.

What’s interesting is the generations in this town. Families raise their kids, send them off to college, then they get jobs in the city and get married, and at the first hint of a baby, they come back here and buy a house. We see a lot of repetition of last names.

What challenges do you think the community faces?
All communities, at present, are facing the same challenge from the economy. At the moment, there's also real estate. But we've been through that before. We are a really diverse community and have been for very long.

The African-American population came to support the resort hotels in the late 1800s and stayed. The community has worked really hard to incorporate everybody.

Main Streets are always a problem, but currently ours is very active. We have restaurants and offices. The Y was a great addition and also the Boulton Center on Main Street.

How should you define the character of Bay Shore?
There IS a community. That's how I would define it, there is one. A lot of places, it's just where you live. You go home and shut your door. There is a real sense of community here.

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