03/27/14 12:00pm
03/27/2014 12:00 PM


The next book discussion at Riverhead Free Library will be held today, Thursday, March 27, from 7 to 8 p.m. The book “The Sandcastle Girls,” by Chris Bohjalian, is a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage.  (more…)

02/07/14 10:00am
02/07/2014 10:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Free Library reference coordinator Elva Zeichner (right) and reference librarian Joyce Rienzo suggested novels and non-fiction by Latin American authors at lunch session Friday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Free Library reference coordinator Elva Zeichner (right) and reference librarian Joyce Rienzo suggested novels and non-fiction by Latin American authors at lunch session Friday.

When Riverhead Free Library’s new director Joy Rankin joined the staff in August, her hope was to extend programs beyond the library’s walls and out into the community.

And on Friday afternoon, she kicked off the newest chapter of a program to help meet that goal.


02/02/14 11:21am
02/02/2014 11:21 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Garden Club volunteers on East Main Street in 2011.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Garden Club volunteers on East Main Street in 2011.

Congratulations to the following newly installed Riverhead Garden Club officers: Marlene Steers and Fay Young, co-presidents; Nancy Binger, first vice president; Dorothy Sullivan, second vice president; Eileen Norton, correspondence secretary; Carol Lee, recording secretary; and Joan Comer, treasurer. The club, which meets the first Tuesday of each month at James-port Community Center, promotes the beautification, preservation and conservation of trees, flowers and plants, and various horticultural projects in the community. It offers garden therapy at adult centers; children’s programs on gardening, such as the Star Garden at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School; and scholarships for district students.

The meetings also feature many speakers discussing topics such as composting, ecology, flower arranging and more.

The Girls Scouts at Roanoke Avenue Elementary have been busy learning how to attract wildlife to the school’s garden and helping the garden survive during the cold winter months. Members of the Riverhead Garden Club have supported the girls’ efforts by teaching them about birds and guiding the girls in projects like making pine cone feeders in December and painting bird feeders in January.

Kiwanis Club of Greater Riverhead is seeking new members. This global organization is dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. Members can assist with already developed programs or may develop their own. Various ways the club has supported the community include the Toys for Tots program and the Riverhead High School Key Club, recognized as the only distinguished Key Club in Suffolk County. For more information call Harry Wilkinson at 463-5811.

Riverhead Free Library’s popular “Booked for Lunch” program will be held off-site Friday, Jan. 31, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Express Deli Cafe, 303 Osborn Ave. RFL’s adult reference librarians will talk about Latin American literature. Twenty books will be featured. Lunch may be purchased beforehand.

RFL will kick off its Prosperity and Abundance book discussion series Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 7 to 8 p.m. Each month will feature an inspiring prosperity classic. The first book to be discussed will be Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.” For more information, call the RFL adult reference department at 727-3228.

Happy birthday to Ariel Reichel and Ashley Hulse on Jan. 31; Forest Vail, Seth Fruedenberg and Joe Czulada on Feb. 1; Billy Hartmann on the 3rd; Stephanie Gill, Tom Troyan, Jude Petrowski and Bob Szcepanik on the 4th; Melvin Henderson Jr. and Sydney Kito on the 5th; Ethan Baumack on the 6th; Nancy Carney on the 7th; Samuel Quartararo and Emily Hulse, who both turn 4, on the 8th; Jane Hill and Lynn Kobylenski on the 9th; Rashae Smith and Joan Hulse on the 11th; and Valerie Kulhan on the 12th. Be sure to celebrate.

Happy 41st wedding anniversary to Karen and Bill Kelly on Feb. 11. I hope your day is special.

Enjoy the winter days ahead. Take care of our feathered friends by offering them some birdseed and suet while the snow is on the ground.

Email your Riverhead community news to Kathy!

09/19/13 2:44pm
09/19/2013 2:44 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead High School library has been gutted and is currently under construction. Those renovations are expected to be completed by the end of December.

Riverhead School District officials say they have plans in place — or are hammering them out — to help ease transitional periods during construction this school year.

At the high school, three rooms are currently under construction: the auditorium, the library and the large group instruction room, known as the LGI room.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said the auditorium and LGI room are expected to be completed this fall.

The library should be finished by the end of December, she said.

“The whole space is going to be renovated and turned into a state-of-the-art media center,” Ms. Carney said. “There will be computer spaces and study nooks for kids.”

Ms. Carney said the district is meeting with Riverhead Free Library officials to collaborate student services during the library’s construction. Teachers are also gathering library materials and carting them into their classrooms, and students are using computer labs for research services, she said.

Roger Smith of BBS Architects in Patchogue, the company that designed the district-wide, $78.3 million construction bond project, said during a Sept. 10 school board meeting that construction at the Aquebogue, Riley Avenue and Phillips Avenue elementary schools is “substantially completed” and punch lists are expected to close out within the new few months. BBS is also working on a capital improvement proposal for the Shoreham-Wading River School District.

Riverhead Middle School construction plans have been submitted to the state education department, Mr. Smith said, adding that plans for Pulaski Street and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools will be sent to the state for review within a few weeks.

With the infrastructure improvements, the district is planning to change the way it feeds students.

The high school kitchen used to prepare all meals and ship them to each school. Now every building will be able to prepare fresh meals on-site. The Aquebogue Elementary School’s kitchen was the first to be completed and staffers there are currently preparing meals.

Ms. Carney said the district’s wellness committee will hold its first meeting Wednesday to come up with a new food service plan, including menus and partnerships with local farms. The committee is made up of school officials and Riverhead school board members.

As for the lunch staff, Ms. Carney said the district didn’t need to hire more employees because it was able to relocate some from the high school to other buildings.

In addition to the renovation of existing spaces at Riverhead High School, the Star Academy is moving into the main building. This alternative program, which has been housed in the high school’s portable classrooms, provides an atmosphere that promotes academic success while addressing more individual needs and learning styles. Ms. Carney said the district’s goal was to stop using the portables and instead move students into the main building to better integrate them into the regular academic program, including electives and extra-curricular activities.

In addition to the major renovations, the school board recently approved a $1.7 million repair-reserve fund project for various upgrades at the high school, including replacement of lighting and crumbling concrete in the back plaza courtyard, repair of the south and student parking lots and replacement of a damaged ceiling and lighting in the cafeteria, school officials have said.

Ms. Carney said she believes the district has been very organized with construction planning and is “very pleased with the progress.”

“The kids and staff are so excited about the new buildings,” she said. “It’s a nice feeling to be in an environment that’s so conducive to learning.”

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08/17/13 8:00am
08/17/2013 8:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Free Library’s new director Joy Rankin says she doesn’t think of the library as brick and mortar.

The Riverhead Free Library’s new director has learned from personal experience how a public library can help patrons get through a difficult time.

Joy Rankin, 51, who started last Tuesday in her new role, said in an interview this week that her public library in Atlanta, Ga., was there for her when her husband, a 37-year-old art teacher, became terminally ill.

When they met, he had three children and she had a son. After the couple married, they had another child about a year later. When their son turned 10 months old, Ms. Rankin’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and died nine months later.

Ms. Rankin described that experience as a whirlwind, but said her public library welcomed her and her children and offered an understanding environment, which helped the healing process for her family.

Ms. Rankin said she plans to go beyond Riverhead library’s walls and out into the community to let residents know about the services that are available to help with any of life’s problems, like losing a house or having trouble finding work.

The Nassau County native graduated from SUNY/New Paltz and the Palmer School of Library and Information Science and has worked as a librarian in the children’s department at the South Huntington Library and at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. While serving as an adjunct professor at SUNY/New Paltz, Ms. Rankin said she started its first black and Latino children’s literature class, because she believes it’s important to teach educators how to bring language into the classroom through literature.

In 2002, Ms. Rankin worked as media coordinator for the Atlanta Public Schools, and was the supervisor for all media centers in school libraries.

She has also worked as a fashion and beauty writer for Essence magazine. Most recently, she was the director of the Roosevelt Public Library in Hempstead.

“With all of the experience I have, I feel there’s not an audience I can’t touch or be connected to,” she said.

We sat down with Ms. Rankin at the library to discuss her new role. Here are some excerpts.

Q: Why do you believe libraries are important?

A: I recently heard a story on the radio about the roles of libraries after Hurricane Sandy and in the midst of the storm. They acted as community hubs. The community came to think of the library very differently because in that emergency the library really rose up to this role it hadn’t expected to have in the past. It also empowered libraries and support staff. It really took on new meaning, a refined meaning. [Libraries] made us a lot stronger. Another library audience was added that wasn’t there before. And while [this new audience was] there, it took note of so many other services and access available.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing libraries?

A: Libraries are a lifestyle. If I can’t find some portions of my lifestyle at the library, why would I come here? People say, ‘I’m getting it on my tablet and I can read anything I want to at home.’ The two worlds are now coming to the table. There’s going to be an opportunity to use libraries in their first intended roles and that’s how libraries impact democracy in communities. If this becomes the last institution standing that’s unbiased and allows people to bring their concerns and discuss them in a fair and respectful manner, so everybody can hear all sides of a point, libraries, to me, will continue to create the space where people can bring all kinds of issues and challenges, and find solutions.

Q: What drew you to Riverhead?

A: Riverhead excites everybody. Riverhead, for me, is a cumulation of all these various work I’ve done and the various paths that have lead me here. I’m not just thinking of the library as brick and mortar. There’s so much more outside— the array of people in Riverhead. I’m so excited to meet and engage with and be connected to them because there are some voices that haven’t been heard, and then there are voices that we’ve gotten so comfortable with that they are the only voices you get to hear. I hope that I’m able to quickly show the community that I walk with fairness in my blood.

Q: What are your goals as the library’s newest director?

A: When I was a media coordinator in Atlanta, my conversations would be at the level of the state as a lobbyist with the district superintendents to make sure the library program in their schools was impacting the various school reforms. The beauty of public libraries is that you can have a certain level of freedom. I can be more cutting edge in public libraries. I can operate more non-traditionally in public libraries. I felt kids connect more with edginess. That’s my style. The conversation could also be about, what are we sharing in terms of resources? If a school can’t purchase a particular database, then that’s something the library could look into having. I’m looking forward to partnering with the schools and developing new programs for children.

Q: How has the transition been as you settle into your new role?

A: The staff has embraced me in a way that I have never experienced. Even in the process of being interviewed — and I said it to the staff when I met them last week — it was like I went on a date. I first thought, ‘I’m just going to have fun on this date. If I never see this guy again, I had a great meal and had a good time.’ At the end of the evening, I thought, ‘I wonder if we’re going on another date. This was nice.’ So, I went on like three dates and now I’m married. It was really a great process for me. I just felt pulled in and I wanted to be a part of something I felt was becoming big. And now I’m on the edge of it. I’ve been fortunate that way, that I seem to enter into something just in time.

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