John Jermain Library Is A Learning Annex For Kids, Parents Alike

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Circulation services coordinator Donna Fisher is protected by a plexiglass shield at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, which is open for limited houts but launching new programs to help students and their parents cope with the brave new world of education in a pandemic. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Even though its hours are limited, the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor has launched a series of new programs to help students — and their parents — cope with the brave new world of education in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.

Library director Catherine Creedon this week said staff members, including children’s librarian Diana LaMarca, teen librarian Kimberly Parry, and assistant director and program coordinator Wonda Miller, have been hard at work designing programs to help meet needs that until last March were virtually unheard of.

Take home schooling, for instance. Once the domain of a relative few, the practice is gaining popularity as parents think twice about the prospect of sending their children back to school with the coronavirus still afoot. Mare Dianora, who has homeschooled two children, will offer tips and advice for parents who plan to homeschool their children this year in a Zoom meet-up at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 3. Future sessions will be scheduled. Signup is at the library website, johnjermain.org.

The library also has a new collection of reference books on homeschooling that are available for in-person browsing.

Looking ahead, starting September 17, Michelle McGay, a bilingual social work student at Stony Brook University, will be available as part of her internship Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to help parents navigate any number of issues related to school and children’s services in Suffolk County in English or Spanish. She will help parents complete forms sent home from school, find out how they can improve connectivity so their children can keep up with school work, find their way through the health insurance application process, and provide them with referrals for other services. “She will be there to support parents with whatever type of interaction they need,” Ms. Creedon said.

Ms. McGay will be available for remote or in-person sessions and will also be working with the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton and the Westhampton Free Library.

Ms. Creedon said having a social worker on site speaks to the library’s 110-year history of community outreach that began with English instruction for immigrant families soon after its founding in 1910. “We’ve drawn inspiration and courage from that,” she said.

The library has a number of offerings available, including MUZZY, a free language learning data base for children in kindergarten through 12th grade, Brainfuse, a free live tutoring program for math, science, reading, writing, and social studies, plus standardized test preparatory kits for students preparing for the SAT and ACT exams, and flash cards for younger students.

But wait! There’s more. The library is also a WiFi hotspot, so students can come over and sit at outdoor tables to do homework — at least until the weather turns for the worse. And, because some high school students are struggling to find projects to complete their community service requirement, the library is offering community service credits for students who read a book and complete a book review for the library’s website.

Finally, from 10 to 10:20 a.m. on Tuesdays, the library is offering a “Breathe Together” meditation through its website. “That might be one of the most valuable services we offer to parents,” Ms. Creedon said.

The library, which has been open limited hours for appointments and “plaza-side” pickup at its Jefferson Street entrance, is slowly expanding its services, although masks and social distancing are still required.

Pickups are available Tuesdays through Fridays, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments, which are currently available from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, will be expanded after Labor Day to include appointment hours from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays.

Ms. Creedon stressed the library will be happy to allow patrons in, even if they don’t have an appointment, provided there is space available. She urged patrons to call ahead — the library’s number is 631-725-0049 — to make sure.

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