Local Libraries Get New Permission

Before the pandemic, the survival of independent bookstores – and books in general – was at risk. When COVID hit, shipping delays and closures seemed to foretell the end of libraries.

However, like a well-designed plot twist, the pandemic has led to a resurgence of love in the bookstore instead. Book sales have jumped, and people are investing in local shopping again. “The way we read, consume and live has changed during COVID,” says Eileen Dingler, executive director of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting libraries in the area.

Membership has boomed in the past couple of years, and while some stores, like Huntington’s beloved Book Revue, are closing, a new batch of new bookstores are bringing new life to many of the island’s small towns.

“Owning a library is very difficult,” says Dingler. “But she’s also totally charming.”

Here are four new libraries to browse on the island:

Theodore Books

17 Audrey Ave, Oyster Bay

516-636-5550

When former Congressman Steve Israel first looked at the space that now houses his store, Oyster Bay’s Main Street was full of vacancies. By the time he came back a few months later to sign the lease, it was the last available spot in town. “If there is one positive aspect of the epidemic, it is that the streets of the small city are coming back to life,” Israel says.

Theodore’s, which opened in November, is named after Oyster Bay’s most famous resident, former President Theodore Roosevelt, and boasts a solid collection of presidential biographies and political stories. The store’s collection of contemporary literature is equally impressive: bestselling fiction, memoirs, and classics can be found, and there’s a children’s section in the back, complete with kid-sized seating and plush teddy bears. “My grandson thinks it’s all his,” Israel says.

The store hosts book clubs, children’s activities, and author events like this one by memoir-bound actor Ralph Macchio at the Madison Theater in Rockville Center on October 17.

Several former Book Revue workers have found refuge here, and Israel, the novelist himself, can also be found most days arranging the shelves. Even during my days in Congress, Israel says, “books were my true love.”

book place

469 AH. Main street

Riverhead

631-405-7902

Jocelyn Maningo Kalita, a second-generation librarian from eastern Moorish, has dreamed of owning a bookshop for years. When waterfront restaurant owner Jerry and the Mermaid suggested the shop next door, Kalita realized it was perfect. The entrance connects the restaurant with the library, and customers looking for a bathroom sometimes stumble into the book room. “One blew up the other day and she was amazed,” Kalita says. “He said he felt like walking into Narnia!”

Besides a mix of children’s and adult titles, the store has a bookstore section of books, and it plans to support self-published authors from nearby cities. “I imagine this store is as local as we can get,” Caleta says.

Dugerd Bard Library

250 Larkfield Street.

East Northport

631-239-1377

Poet and young journalist publisher James Wagner has operated poetry readings and book launches across the island for more than a dozen years. During the pandemic, many cafes and event halls that hosted these events were closed. “I’ve wanted a place for a long time, a permanent place for poets to connect with,” says Wagner, a Northport resident. “During COVID, half of the stores were vacant. I found this place and fell in love with it.”

The store’s name is inspired by Wagner’s collection of poetry, The Bards, and from a bookshop called The Dogeared that was located in the city. The Wagner Shop displays second-hand and antique books, from science fiction and fantasy to mystery and memoir, with tables set aside for local poets. The former nail salon also features a stage for poetry readings and open mic nights.

In October, the shop celebrates its first anniversary. “We’re planning a great week-long sale,” Wagner says. “We are ready to celebrate!”

next chapter

187 Park Ave, Huntington (moving to 204 New York Ave. due in November)

631-316-4363, @thenextchaptli

When Book Revue, the Huntington bookstore where Mallory Brown worked for five years, closed last summer, no one could have dreamed of this fantastical ending: Having spearheaded a hugely successful effort backed by Kickstarter, Brown secured a spot a few doors down from the bottom. Revue book for her new store, next chapter.

Brown hopes to have the new site up and running by November. During September, she ran a pop-up bookstore in a cottage in Huntington Harbor. Brown plans to keep the popups going all over the island even after The Next Chapter’s permanent home opens.

“Revue has been around for 44 years and has left a huge chasm in the landscape of Long Island bookstores. People have been working from home for a few years now and they understand the importance of getting involved in your community,” says Brown. “And there’s no better place than your local bookstore. to find a community.”

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