The library may not look the same as it once did a century ago when it first opened its doors on Tyson Block, but its main objective is to remain as vital a part of the community as it can be.
“That’s what keeps us busy as we try new, creative things,” Eren said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “My vision for the library was to get as much involved with Floral Park as possible.”
Eren, who joined the library in 2001 before being named director in 2016, has overseen many changes in both renovations and programming. She says getting a library card can be a gateway to so many other things than books.
Today, the library offers free family museum passes across Long Island and New York City, including the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. There is currently a digital eBook selection on top of a diversified collection of fiction, nonfiction, magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs. There is also an “urban explorers” group, where residents meet to travel into New York City and visit different landmarks.
As more people visit for more of what the library has to offer, Eren is striving to make the library a place “where everybody knows your name.”
The library’s total book collection amounts to about 47,000 volumes, up from 13,500 in its first year.
“We offer a lot more than just books,” Eren said. “The world is changing before we know it and we’re keeping up.”
The selection today is a far cry from the more humble beginnings of the library, which opened on January 1, 1923, with only donated books. A public fund was started in 1916 by the village board.
The library’s first collection of books came from the village’s paren-teacher association and other civic-minded groups hosting a well-attended tea that requested guests to bring “two books in good condition” on the invitation, according to the library.
Anna Fickweiler, the first librarian in Floral Park, was working for a $10-per-week salary.
Two years after opening, the library moved to the Childs Building on Verbena Avenue briefly before coming back to Tyson in the Knights of Columbus building. It relocated again from a small room to a larger one in the same building in July 1929, where it remained until 1936 and then again to the west wing of village hall after it was completed.
A year later, the first story time was held and the constitution and bylaws were first adopted on Sept. 11, 1937. The library’s charter was also granted in 1941.
The library moved into its current home at 17 Caroline Place in 1964, when it took over what used to be a U.S. post office.
To celebrate a century in operation the library is hosting a giant birthday cake craft for pre-kindergarteners to fifth graders, making a cake display out of cardboard for the children’s room on April 18. On April 19, they are hosting a book reading of “The Perfect Birthday Recipe” by Katy Hudson.
Both events lead up to the birthday celebration and summer reading kick-off on Saturday, June 24, which includes circus performers and acts, among other things. Throughout the summer months, the library also hosts concerts on the lawn.
The increase in both programming and events, Eren says, helps turn the library into more of a community center.
“Libraries in general have a stereotype of being quiet and getting shushed by the librarian if you make too much noise,” Eren said. “We are a very welcoming library and are working hard to debunk that. We want people to come in and get to know us.”
In 2022 alone, the library had just over 100,600 total visits, 8,619 registered borrowers, over 500 programs offered and 652 museum pass requests, according to its website.
Erin said the support the library has been given by the community is heart-warming, which includes village officials, residents and the Friends of the Floral Park Library, a non-profit organization that promotes and supports the library throughout the community.
The non-profit puts together fund-raising events, lawn sales and manages its own store in the library, The Book Nook.
“I’ve always wanted to make this place better than when I joined,” Eren said. “Being able to now say we have people coming in because they want to celebrate the library and they’re coming for different reasons, that gives me a lot of happiness and satisfaction.”