Janet O'Hare, current president of the Riverhead Free Library Board of Trustees says serving on the board is gratifying and a great way to give back to the community. Photo: Denise Civiletti

If you love the library, have a passion for community and are looking for a chance to give back, you might be just the person Riverhead Free Library is looking for.

The library is seeking volunteers interested in serving on its board of trustees. The board of trustees sets policy and makes decisions about how library funds are spent and provides support to the library director.

There are three seats opening on the nine-member board of trustees this year, Riverhead Free Library Director Kerrie McMullen-Smith said. Each trustee serves a three-year term.

It’s extremely rewarding work, Trustee Janet O’Hare says. O’Hare, serving her second term on the board, is currently its president.

O’Hare, of Riverhead, is a retired librarian. She worked at North Shore Public Library in Shoreham for over 30 years. O’Hare started out there as a bookkeeper, went back to college to become a librarian and by the time she retired had worked her way up to the position of assistant director.

“The library is the center of the community,” O’Hare said. “It’s a community service. Every decision we make is in service of the community,” she said.

The library serves everyone, from infants to senior citizens, O’Hare said. It’s a resource for books, music, audiobooks and research materials — both in-person and online.

Riverhead Free Library is a community hub where residents can find help with tax returns, new technology, career coaching, business counseling, parenting skills, physical fitness, healthy living, language learning and accessing various assistance programs that serve veterans, seniors, consumers and more — including emergency food supplies provided every month by Long Island Cares and Island Harvest.

“It’s got something to offer everyone, from soup to nuts,” O’Hare said. The library is a “social place,” where “all are welcome” and everyone gets personal service.

“If you want to volunteer, becoming a library trustee is certainly a good way to give back,” O’Hare said.

But you need not be a librarian to do the job. “We want people from all walks of life,” O’Hare said.

O’Hare said the library is hoping to get younger people involved as trustees — perhaps parents whose children use the library regularly. The trustees are looking to diversify the board membership.

The time commitment required to serve as a trustee is manageable, O’Hare said. The board meets once a month. A trustee will also serve on a board committee, sometimes two committees. The committees usually meet once a month also, she said.

“We have a very cooperative board,” O’Hare said.

The library holds an election for trustees, so that service is open to the community at large. Often, though, the candidates are unopposed, O’Hare said. The election is held on the same day as the library budget vote.

Trustee applications are available at the library service desk and on the library’s website.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.