Nora Schual, of Rockville Centre, has been director at the Amityville Library since 1992. Before coming to Amityville, she worked at libraries in Lindenhurst, Long Beach, Lawrence and Baldwin. The Amityville Public Library was created in 1907, and grew from the Amityville Literary Society, which was founded a few years before by a group of concerned citizens who then sought donations to stock the new library’s shelves, Schual said.
What were your impressions of Amityville when you first started working here?
I used to drive through Amityville all the time. The village part of the service area is very pretty. Just visually, it has that hometown feel.
When I first met the board of trustees, I thought they were very pleasant people, I had a good impression of them. And I guess they had a good impression of me.
I remember on my first day here, I was out on the main floor and people would come and introduce themselves to me. Things haven’t changed. There’s a small town community feel to it.
Can you give examples of that?
People stop and chat with the librarian. Children’s librarians know the kids’ names, and the kids come running in to see them. It goes both ways, the public and the staff are very friendly.
What does the library mean - what purpose does it serve - to Amityville residents?
It’s a community center. Information, entertainment, programs. They use it in all different ways. So much of what we do now is digital, they even sign up for library cards online. There is a whole digital community of people using the library. For the people who come in, I think it’s the human component when someone asks for help finding a book or downloading something. And there is a sense of discovery here.
Being a part of the Amityville community, what did you see after Sandy, and how was the library a resource for people?
We’ve seen a lot of people affected. They lost their homes. Many lost library resources, that’s what we were finding out. If they were in an area we knew to be affected, we knew those books were drowned and we were waiving that. But we are trying to identify the materials so we can replace them.
We had coffee, tea, cookies. It was a warm place for people to hang out. We had power strips everywhere so they could charge their devices, and actually we have kept most of them there.
I didn’t go down to be a spectator, so everything was word of mouth. The library was not affected except for power out for a few days. We were just open. I think it was a sympathetic ear for people and just a place to get warm and start your day with a cup of coffee.
How would you define the Amityville community?
I think Amityville is a place where the people are always looking forward but not forgetting about their past.