Readers, can you believe another summer is coming to an end? What an interesting, exciting, odd summer it’s been. A summer of reentry, as we tentatively dipped our toes back into the comforts of seeing family and friends, and stumbling our way towards a new normal. Undoubtedly, it’s been a summer of gratitude. Here at the Library, we wanted to do something special to celebrate some of the people for whom we are most grateful: First responders.
July was dubbed “First Responders Month,” with events for all ages, but it’s really been an entire summer of honoring these heroes. If you’ve stopped by recently, you would have noticed our incredible display cabinets near the Circulation desk, currently filled with various items paying homage to fire, rescue, and medical services; stethoscopes, toy ambulances and police cars, plastic firefighter helmets, and more. Oversized red and blue letters spell out, “THANK YOU FIRST RESPONDERS.” It’s a small reminder that we see their hard work and sacrifices.
We also wanted to give everyone a chance to share their own messages of appreciation, or to even highlight their loved ones working in the field. Teens were encouraged to put their creativity into action to craft artwork, poetry or stories in honor of first responders. Submissions have been put up outside the Teen Room, alongside an interactive display of paper badges emblematic of the police, firefighting, and medical services fields. The badges were made by staff in the Media Department on the Library’s Cricut Machine (courtesy of our Innovation Station) and were left out for passerby to jot down their messages or (for younger patrons) draw a little something to show they care. The display has been popular with patrons and staff, as 54 badges and counting are now decorating the windows of the Teen Lounge.
For our little library goers, there was a First Responders Storytime posted on YouTube for children ages 3 and up, with stories, rhymes, and songs about our most valued community helpers. Throughout July, children were also invited to decorate postcards for first responders. Postcards that were returned by the end of the month (each child was given five) were displayed around the Children’s Room and goody bags were gifted to the children who shared their messages of appreciation. Over 100 beautiful postcards were returned, covering the Children’s reference desk and lining bookcases around the room!
“First Responders Month” began as an offshoot of the Young Adult program series, Meet the Professionals, in which Librarian Trainee Miss Samantha interviews experts in various fields to help inspire teens to consider their future academic and career goals. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, she saw an opportunity to create something positive and highlight the incredible first responders who have been essential to our community during this impossibly difficult time.
Miss Samantha conducted four interviews, all of which can be found on the Library’s YouTube channel, under the Teens playlist. The videos have 120 combined views, and we would love to see that number climb! Check out our channel to watch interviews with representatives from the NCPD 8th Precinct, the West Islip Fire Department, the West Islip Fire Department Rescue Squad, and the Nassau County Police Department Emergency Ambulance Bureau. They discuss their academic backgrounds and give advice for those interested in breaking into their field. Not only are they fascinating glimpses into the important work done within those fields, but they might also inspire you to take a new path in life. That might mean switching careers, volunteering, or simply being more mindful of how you can help contribute to the greater good.
As our country continues to battle this new wave of the pandemic, one of the silver linings has been the recognition of how fortunate we are to have so many out there on the front lines helping us along the way.
Stay well and keep reading,