In an effort to encourage members of the community to experience all their library has to offer, while also incentivizing shopping locally—and supporting small businesses—the South Country Library, located at 22 Station Road in Bellport, has launched an innovative win-win Small Business Discount Program, which enables patrons to receive a discount at participating local businesses in the area simply by showing their South Country Library card, which is free and easy for all residents to obtain.
There are currently 12 local businesses participating in the pilot program with the hope that most, if not all, local businesses will eventually come on board. The early adopters who have partnered with the South Country Library in this endeavor include the following restaurants and stores: Papa Nick’s, Summer Salt, Shelby’s Kitchen, TOLA., Cupcakes Galore, Bellport Apothecary, Waffles and Soul, Step in Time Dancewear, Ifixscreens, Brook House, Red Barn Boutique, and Bellport Arts & Framing Studio.
The program is a collaboration between Jack M. Nix, community engagement librarian, and Kristina Sembler, library director.
“My whole role is to find ways to maximize outreach,” explained Nix, a longtime library staff member who has recently stepped into this newly appointed position.
While some may consider an alliance between local business and the public library an incongruous one, it makes a lot of sense to combine the two.
“Even if people are only there for the discount, they will then begin to see all the library has to offer,” explained Nix. “We thought, How can we increase card holders and help the community? So, we’re open to partnering with any business in the library district,” said Nix of the program he co-heads, which just launched in November.
“When people find out about it, they get excited. We print bookmarks at Patron Services about the program, and they’re flying off the shelves,” explained Nix. It’s no wonder people can’t wait to sign up, with most participating businesses offering 10 percent off purchases. The discount, however, varies, and is open to the discretion of each business. “It’s a good start. We hope to get as many businesses as there are in the area,” said Nix of his ambitious goals for the program. “Then people can see all the library’s programs once we get people in the door.”
Some of the programs and services that the library provides include a free weekly ESL class for English-language learners starting in March (meeting every Monday at 6 p.m.). It will focus on practicing speaking, reading, and writing. All skill levels are welcome. There will also be an ongoing Conversation Skills for English Learners program, which meets each Thursday at 6 p.m.
The social services fair is on March 16 from 12 to 3 p.m., and it will feature multiple organizations from across Long Island offering a variety of resources. Patrons can stop by anytime during those hours to seek assistance or to get information. The library also has a permanent food pantry that people can donate to, and from which those in need of food can partake. It is located conveniently in the South Country Library’s lobby.
Passport services are also now available, with patrons able to set up an appointment on the library’s website.
Also, be sure to check out their unique “Library of Things.” Patrons never know what they’ll find there to spark their imagination or creativity. Currently in this eclectic selection, there are items ranging from a MacBook Pro 15 laptop with Adobe Photoshop, 3-D printers, a birdwatching kit, a telescope, board games, musical instruments, entertainment systems, and one of the most whimsical finds, a ghost-hunting kit.
The South Country Library serves all of Bellport, Brookhaven Hamlet, and parts of Patchogue, Medford, and Yaphank. To check if your area is eligible for participation in the South Country Library, to sign up for the newsletter, or to find out more information about the Small Business Discount Program or other services, go to sctylib.org/services/lending-library, call 631-286-0848, or visit the helpful staff at Patron Services in the library to get a card, and don’t be shy!
“We want people to come in and ask us questions. Use our resources. We want to research,” Nix assured.