New York State Funeral Directors Association

Funeral home guests generally leave with little more than memories, grief and any advice they receive from funeral professionals.

And they hope not to be returning soon.

But after the addition of a new feature at Nolan Funeral Home in Long Island, some may be leaving with a book and coming back to visit a week later.

The Northport-NY funeral home created a “Little FH Library” in the lounge downstairs, a task third-generation funeral director Mark Nolan found easy.

His wife, Nora, is a librarian at the Northport-East Northport Public Library for 12 years now.

Nora got her inspiration from the “Little Free Library” program – an effort started in 2009 to make books more available. Mark And Nora Nolan

The nonprofit Little Free Library, now celebrating its 10th Anniversary, started out as a tiny wooden bookstore planted on a pole on the front lawn of Tod Bol’s Wisconsin home as a tribute to his late mother, a teacher.

Bol and a friend, Rick Brooks, collaborated and decided to try to get hundreds of Little Free Libraries established throughout the country. The idea has now spread to over 80,000 libraries in more than 90 countries.

“The downstairs lounge at the funeral home used to serve as a smoking area before smoking indoors at public facilities was banned,” Mark Nolan said.

Many funeral homes that had smoking rooms have converted them to children rooms, as did Nolan’s.

The lounge features a video game, stuffed animals and a television, among other things. It already had some books, but they weren’t exactly what Nora envisioned.

“Some of them were torn or otherwise damaged, others were just too outdated – like a Teletubbies book,” Nora said.

“No kids know what Teletubbies are now,” she said.

BIBLIOTHERAPY

When her father got sick and passed away, Nora said the distraction of reading was therapeutic for her.

“I thought it could be something to help people take their minds off of what’s ever-present,” Nora said.

It isn’t a reading list focused on death and dying, although Nora said death is a subject of many literary works.

“It’s not the main theme, but it’s in there, in a benign way. I feel, like for myself personally, when you read … you get what you want out of it, or sometimes you get what you need.”

Mark Nolan said the funeral home has always had books – many texts dedicated to bereavement – but those are kept in an office as reference sources for staff and families.

Stocking the Little FH Library wasn’t difficult, Nora said. The public library itself often gets book donations that then go on the sale cart. She buys some for just $1.

Nora added some military-themed books, others she calls “feel good” books, and went out and bought some teen books “that are timely now.”

The books have stickers on them encouraging guests to take the book along with them – and to pass it along or bring it back for another to enjoy.

That theme is shared by the Little Free Library program, which is aimed at “forging community connections.”

It’s a fitting endeavor for Nolan Funeral Home which has been serving the community for over 70 years.

A return visit, Nora said, might be an inroad for people to have other conversations.

“We want people to know the door is always open.”


 

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