Great Neck Library staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Robert Pelaez
A staff member at the Great Neck Library's Bayview Avenue branch tested positive for the coronavirus as of Sept. 16. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

A staff member of the Great Neck Public Library has tested positive for the coronavirus, the library said. 

According to a notice put out by the library on Sept. 16, the unidentified staff member’s work station had been disinfected, a professional cleaning company was sent in to sanitize the entire building, at 159 Bayview Ave., and the Nassau County Department of Health was notified.

A friend of mine found out a library employee had Covid-19 too late, on the same day in mid-September she had been inside the library. [My friend] was so upset that the library gave her, and the rest of us, no warning — no sign at the door, no message at the website (no bullhorn in the parking lot),” Village of Great Neck resident Rebecca Gilliar said in an email to Blank Slate Media. “Meanwhile the staff all use the same entrance and exit doors, the same wash rooms. They have been handling the material residents reserved for curbside pickup, and residents, none the wiser, are still permitted to make appointments to enter the library.”

The announcement was posted in the “Reopening Plan” sub-tab of the “About Us” tab on the library’s main page.  Residents must scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see a link to the PDF document that reads “Notice of Workplace Exposure to a Communicable Disease.”

Gilliar also spoke on the job that the acting director of the library, Tracy Van Dyne, has done in response to the pandemic and to a staff member testing positive.

The acting director is about to depart, thank goodness, taking her disinterest in our community’s wellbeing with her,” Gilliar said.

Efforts to reach Van Dyne for comment were unavailing.  The library is scheduled to appoint an interim director on Wednesday night.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of staff members and the public becoming infected, library officials and staff have been cautious about reopening to the public.  Van Dyne said when the Parkville branch reopened in June, it was very busy.

“It got a little crazy at one point,” Van Dyne said. “We’ve opened up to appointments only at this point.”

Library officials said that they are also working with the local schools to try and help them in any way they can as they begin the new school year.

However, some residents feel the process is not happening fast enough.

Ralene Adler, a 44-year resident of Great Neck, asked the library’s Board of Trustees during a Sept. 22 meeting why other North Shore communities, such as Port Washington, Hillside, Syosset and Jericho, have allowed patrons inside for up to 45 minutes of browsing while Great Neck has not.

“You should see the services [other North Shore communities] are getting from the library and they don’t have a $10 million budget,” Adler said. “Great Neck schools are open. They’re safe. There are no problems. If parents are hesitant they don’t have to go.”

Library board President Weihua Yan said that the concern with reopening the library has to do with maintaining social distancing and CDC regulations in order to ensure the safety of the staff and public.

“We have to re-evaluate as the situation changes,” Yan said. “We can’t make everyone happy.”

The Main, Lakeville, Station and Parkville branches are open for 15- and 30-minute appointments Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. To book an appointment visit Curbside pickup of items is also available.

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