The Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library. (July 15, 2011)

The Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library. (July 15, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

At the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley library Friday, smiling faces could be spotted.

The hum of daily life was somehow in progress there, with electricity, Internet and snacks available free to anyone who walked in.

A Disney movie played downstairs to a handful of young children, while older kids grabbed pretzels and cookies by the handful and horsed around.

"Walk, don't run," librarian Lorraine Squires commanded two boys racing up the staircase.

The library has quickly become an oasis for the battered South Shore communities. When it reopened on Wednesday, the library offered a teen program that included pizza for the young participants.

"Their parents were asking if they could eat also, so we realized we could do more," said library director Kerri Rosalia.

The library, which normally provides snacks for the youth programs, put out their inventory of food including tea, coffee, bottles of water, and chips, and is considering extending hours even though some of the staff themselves have lost power at home.

"We'll do this for a couple of days until the power comes back," Rosalia said.

"We're so happy to be able to help," Squires said, though she herself had no power and a tree fallen on her house.
Pearl Wilson made herself a cup of coffee and praised the staff's dedication to the community.

"That's so nice," she said. Wilson, who was recovering from knee surgery, heard about the library and decided to make her way there on foot from her Strafford Street home. "I said I will get there, even if it takes me an hour," she said of the mile and a quarter long walk. She said she had no power though all her neighbors on one side of the street did, and Squires advised her to call LIPA again on one of the library's free phones.

"I'm going to make that call right now," Wilson said.

The demand has been extremely high, Rosalia said. On Wednesday, they had between 1,500 to 2,000 visitors.

More than a place with power and Internet, the library was also a spot where patrons could find a community. "They want to tell their stories," Rosalia said. "We go home with heavy hearts. It's so impoverished here."

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