Editor’s note: All week long, Brittany Wait is profiling people around Sea Cliff, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.
Ann DiPietro, who has been the head of the Stenson Memorial Library -- which was founded in 1894 -- for the past 23 years. She has lived in Sea Cliff for 26 years.
Community affiliations: President of the Sea Cliff Civic Association
Tell me what you love most about the library.
It’s small, but very intense. About 25 of the 60 kindergarteners who attend Sea Cliff Elementary come here for a reading program called Pizza and Paperbacks for New Kindergarteners. We have community concerts, sunset serenades, a Fourth of July celebration and Shakespeare-in-the-park-type events.
Give me some history related to the Children’s Library.
The library opened its doors in 1915 in an official building after it was given to the village by Mary Stenson in honor of her husband Samuel Stenson after he died. It was for adults and children, at the time. It’s a small building, but it’s more like a community center where old friends meet and people make new friends.
What does the library offer the community and how is it unique?
It’s a place to meet up. We have a lot of book clubs for all ages, even adults when they get out of work at 6. It’s unique because of its size and the village’s population. We really know everybody who walks in. There’s no strangers here in Sea Cliff. Everybody who comes in here, we get a sense of who they are. If you’re looking for anonymity, this is not the place.
As a civic leader, what can you say is most notable about the community?
People take responsibility for themselves. If you don’t like something, you have the power to change it. The village empowers you. The dog parade started as an idea. One individual took on a passion and then it happened just like that. Another woman wanted to start a weekly concert series 10 years ago and we’ve had the sunset serenades, involving 10 concerts each summer. There are just so many people who volunteer their time in this community.
Define the character of the community.
It’s a place that’s beautiful, but it’s a beauty that is supported by its citizens.