The Point Lookout annex remains a destiny for many barrier island book lovers.
The nondescript storefront is nestled between a restaurant
and bank. Above its door and window, a blue weatherworn sign bears white letters that
faintly read: “Long Beach Public Library Point Lookout Branch.” The video and
book bins that stand opposite one another, the way lion statues are positioned outside
other libraries, render the branch’s identity more recognizable.
Located at 26B Lido Boulevard, the library is roughly 4.8
miles from the main branch on West Park Avenue in Long Beach. But this trek doesn’t
deter Julia Oberlander, a Long Beach mother who regularly takes her 6- and
7-year-old sons to the branch, sometimes for story time programs.
“It’s a very different experience,” Oberlander said about
the branch. “It’s very personal and friendly. And we always have fun as a
The single-room, carpeted interior features a fiction
section, large print books and a magazine rack on one wall. The other main wall
sports mostly children’s books, with “Days With Frog and Toad” by Arnold Lobel
opened for display on a nearby stand.
The room is divided by two-sided floor shelves that hold
videos, DVDs, audio books and a biography section, where Robert Redford looks
out from the cover of a book by Michael Feeny Callan. At the rear is a reading
table, a desk with a Dell public access computer, and a wall lined with World
Like its sister branch in the West End, the Point Lookout
annex stocks some 10,600 items, a substantial downscale from the 161,100 items
available at the main branch. “What we’re looking at is mostly popular books,
popular DVDs, popular recorded books and things of that nature,” library
director George Trepp said about the annex.
On a recent Saturday, a patron arrived carrying a stack of
books and DVD movies under her arm to donate to the branch.
“We get a lot of donations,” said Carol Condon, a clerk who
sits at an Office Max-like wooden desk where books are checked in and out.
Later that day, Jim McCaffrey, a year-round Point Lookout
resident, returned a DVD movie, “Martha Marcy May Marelne,” and Condon struck
up a conversation with him about the actors.
“It’s everything you could ever want in a library,”
McCaffrey said. “It’s a throwback to another time in that it has a personal
touch. It’s representative of the whole town.”
Point Lookout is a hamlet with a 15-miler-per-hour speed
limit and a population of about 1,200. Many New York City residents own summer
homes there and help make the season the busiest at the branch. As evidence, Condon cites computer use, which jumps from an
average of 30 to 50 daily users. She estimated that as many as 400 people
patronize the branch regularly.
Matt Russo, a Lido Beach resident, is a regular on
Saturdays. As he checked out numerous items, including Mary Higgins Clark
novels and a SpongeBob video for his grandchildren, Russo said he rarely drives
to the main library in Long Beach, finding it too impersonal and a tough place
“Carole is a special gift because of her happy demeanor,
knowledge of the library system and her jokes,” Russo said.
The branch opened in 1967, originally at 50 Lido Blvd.,
before it was transferred to its current location in 1995. “They must have
decided that Point Lookout is sufficiently far away to warrant a branch,” Trepp
speculated about its original purpose.
The Long Beach Library has a lease on the building until January 2013 and has budgeted
about $24,000 this fiscal year for the branch, which had a total circulation of
17,600 items in 2011-12, according to Trepp. The library offers a job share to
Condon and Ingrid Stillwaggon, the branch head. It also employs a teenage page,
who returns items to their shelves and recommends books to her peers.
Condon, who has worked at the library for eight years after
she retired from her library clerk position at Long Beach High School, said she
absolutely loves her work there.
“I often say to people,” she said, “that they’re going to
find me dead at my desk, because I’m never leaving this job.”