The Port Washington Public Library was founded in 1892, and yet in those more than 120 years there have only been four library directors. On Friday, Assistant Director Keith Klang became the fifth person to hold that position.
“I’m just so honored and very humbled by it,” Klang said. “Everyone at the library has been so supportive, and to receive this honor, I don’t take it lightly.”
The announcement was made by John O’Connell, the president of the library’s board, at a Friends of the Library annual author luncheon at North Hills Country Club in Manhasset.
Klang was born and raised in Port Washington and is a graduate of Paul D. Schreiber High School. Not long after he graduated, he took a position with the library as an intern. He has been working there ever since.
He will take over for Nancy Curtin, who has held the position of director since 1994. Her 24-year tenure is the shortest of any director thus far. Wilhemina Mitchell, the library’s first director, held that position for 34 years (1892-1926). She was followed by Helen B. Curtice, who served for 32 years (1926-1958); Edward de Sciora, who served for 36 years (1958-1994); and then Curtin.
O’Connell offered praise for Curtin, who was not present because she was attending her son’s graduation. The Port Library will have an event on June 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. where the public can stop by to say goodbye. Her final day as director will be June 30.
“We’ll have a guest book in the lobby of the library beginning the week of June 11, so if you can’t make it to the reception on the 19th, then come to the library and leave a goodbye message for Nancy in the guest book,” said Amy Bass, president of the Friends of the Library.
Among those in attendance to wish Klang success in his new position were Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Port Washington Board of Education Vice President Nora Johnson and several members of the library’s Board of Trustees.
The announcement was only a brief part of the festivities. There were interviews with acclaimed authors Alice McDermott and Russell Shorto, which were moderated by Port resident and best-selling author Susan Isaacs.
McDermott recently released “The Ninth Hour,” a novel about three generations of an Irish immigrant family in Brooklyn and their religious experiences. She said she chose these stories because she felt they were being forgotten.
“I ended up realizing that there were all these religious women… who were doing incredible work with the poor and sick and founding hospitals, and I feel they’ve sort of disappeared from our history,” she said.
Shorto’s book “Revolution Song: A Story of America” tells the story of the Revolutionary War through six different people whose lives interconnected in that period: a slave, a Loyalist, a Native American, a British soldier, a shoemaker and George Washington.
“I auditioned about 100 people for roles in the book, so to speak, and these were the ones that jumped out at me,” he said. “It’s hard to find people who are not in the elite whose lives are documented well enough.”