August 28, 2015 is Dr. Terry Kirchner Day in Westchester!

August 28th, 2015 No comments

TKirchnerDayFriday, August 28, 2015, has been proclaimed “Dr. Terry Kirchner Day” in Westchester by County.  Dr. Kirchner was one of the honorees at the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation’s Light the Night with Literacy Gala on August 26th.  Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams (District 13) presented Terry with a proclamation in recognition of his support of literacy and the Mount Vernon Public Library.

The Gala was held to celebrate the collective efforts to support the Mount Vernon Public Library, and all proceeds will go toward supporting their Children’s Library.  As Tanesia Walters, current President of the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation, noted:  “We must aid in fostering the growth and nurturing the youth of our community. Mount Vernon has future judges to appoint, lawyers to name, architects to train and community leaders to develop.”

This year’s honorees were recognized for their exemplary community leadership, and the other honorees included Camille Banks-Lee, former President of the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation and former Executive Director for the City of Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, and Kenneth C. Davis, bestselling author of Don’t Know Much® About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.

The Mount Vernon Public Library is the central library of the Westchester Library System, where Dr. Kirchner has been the Executive Director for the past 6 years.

Learn from Lynda

August 13th, 2015 No comments

LyndaLinkedin_blackAvailable from your home or nearest library, is an online education service that can help you learn technology, creative, and business skills that will help you achieve your goals. Westchester Library System and partner libraries provide this premium resource with access to a vast library of high-quality, current, and engaging video tutorials taught by recognized industry experts. Best of all, it is FREE with your library card!

Easy to use!

  • Create your Profile
  • Browse courses and save what you like to your own Playlist.
  • Your progress is saved and easy to view in your Profile.
  • Get a certificate upon completion of a course.

More than 3000+ courses with 129,942 video tutorials are available.

  • Software like MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint; Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator.
  • Web design: Web graphics, Interactive Design, Prototyping
  • Social media and web publishing tools like Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.
  • Photography: Lighting and Photographing a Still Life, Photography 101: Shooting in Low Light, GIMP:Essential Training
  • Business and career skills – productivity, marketing, time management.
  • Job Search Tools: with Resume design, Searching for Positions, Working with Recruiters

…and much more!


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WLS Trustee Institute re Renovation or New Construction? held 6/24/2015

July 24th, 2015 No comments

TrusteeInstituteJune2014Renovation or New Construction?  Lessons from the Field on making the Right Decisionwith Raymond Beeler, co-founder of Gallin Beeler Design Studio Architects, PLLC, and Judith Lockman, Public Library Consultant, working with the Garden City Public Library and North Bellmore Library, both on Long Island (pictured left).

Judith Lockman started the evening off by sharing her experience with the renovation of the Syosset Public Library, where she served as director at the time.  At the start of their project, they quickly moved from a simple renovation to meet current issues to a project that would need to look ahead for decades to keep the library as a welcoming destination place for at least the next 20 years.  One key to this was adaptability and working with an architect who would listen and be flexible.

Their needs included the basics:  more space for public access computers, more programming space, addition of a café.  Field trips were encouraged among the Board Members to see different styles in action.  The café raised many questions, so one library that decided to close their café was visited as well as one that decided on a “nook” version with a seating area and only vending machines.  A café has different rules that are under health board and restaurant requirements, so Syosset decided to go with a combination/”nook” area; and that worked out very well.

Choosing an architect is also a community chore.  One is needed who has a reputation to meet and talk with all parties involved and is interested in the Director’s and Board Members’ vision for the project.  Input from the public is important; but often the public is not aware of the business transactions of the library—how the materials are delivered and processed—making input from the staff essential regarding workflow.  The building should help the staff do their job.

Ray Beeler spoke about this process for the Syosset project.  It is important to carefully think through a project in the beginning.  However, an architect must be willing to listen and seek out input from the public to bring the community along in the process.  The Syosset Public Library project had a $13.2 Million 30-year bond vote with a 2/3 Yes vote.   The stages of construction and floor plans can be seen from the slide presentation made.

The library offered modified/”drive through”-type services to the public as the renovation took place.  Once the construction was completed, the library allowed for staff time to give tours of the new library and they even had a FAQ page made up so that the library staff would be able to easily answer questions about the renovation project.  They even coined a catch phrase of “tastes vary” in order to answer the many comments about colors and design choices made.  Overall, the new library turned out differently than when the project started and has been embraced by and has truly become a destination place for their community.

Bellmore Public Library was the second project that Ms. Lockman and Mr. Beeler covered.  This project started with a needs assessment done by the architect that involved interviews with both full- and part-time staff members.  The results were brought back to the library board, which indicated that doing smaller renovations would not improve the functionality of the library.  A wrapper around the building was planned to increase the library from 2,800 to 4,000 square feet.  The planned development would add needed space for the children’s area and re-establish a front entrance.  This project also went out for a public bond vote in the amount of $8.9 Million.  In order to get people to vote yes, which means paying more taxes, it is essential to present something that makes sense.  Incorporate assistance from a financial advisor in order to determine the overall project costs; what the cost would be for each tax payer; and be clear about what the tax payer will be getting for those costs.  For this project, the Bellmore Public Library determined that the annual cost to a tax payer would be $71/year for 15 years or less than 20 cents per day in exchange for a beautiful community center.  In their publicity and informational flyers, they described the results of the construction in detail and coordinated a core group from the community to act as ambassadors for the project.  The result was a 2/3 yes vote, and today they have a wonderful new building that will service their community well into the future.

Additional questions were fielded along with more networking and sharing over delicious refreshments provided by our wonderful hosts—the Dobbs Ferry Public Library—and participant feedback was extremely positive!

Westchester Library System Names Allison Midgley as Technology Trainer

July 9th, 2015 No comments
Allison Midgley

Allison Midgley

Tarrytown, NY (July 8, 2015) – The Westchester Library System (WLS) recently announced the appointment of Allison Midgley as Technology Trainer. WLS, a state-chartered cooperative library agency, serves Westchester County’s 38 public libraries.

Allison Midgley received her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and Education from the University of Dallas, Irving TX. She has nearly 20 years experience in developing curriculum and teaching digital literacy programs, most recently as Technology Coordinator for the David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville, NY.

“Allison will deliver training to staff of the WLS member libraries on the use of existing and emerging software, database and e-content programs and resources” said Terry Kirchner, WLS’s Executive Director. Her in-depth knowledge of integrated library systems will help WLS to creatively and effectively improve training to support WLS and the member libraries.”

“I am excited to share my passion for learning with library users and staff, says Allison. I am looking forward to relocating from Western New York to Westchester County, with its vibrant and diverse community. I’m curious by nature and I have already started exploring the county’s bike trails, art venues, yoga studios and yarn shops.”

About the Westchester Library System

The mission of the Westchester Library System is to ensure that all residents have seamless access to excellent library service throughout Westchester County. The Westchester Library System serves as a center of innovation for the Westchester County library community. WLS provides model programs, affordable and easy-to-use information technology, and support services that enable libraries to continuously improve service to their communities. For more information, please visit

WLS Trustee Institute re Open Meetings Law

June 11th, 2015 No comments

On Wednesday, June 3, a WLS Trustee Institute was held at the Greenburgh Public Library entitled, Everything you always wanted to know about Open Meetings Law (but were afraid to ask) with Robert J. (Bob) Freeman, Executive Director of New York State’s Committee on Open Government.  Mr. Freeman—Bob—has been with the agency since its creation, and he came willing and able to answer all questions on the subject – and he did!

Here are some of the questions that were answered:

Bob Freeman at 6/3/2015 WLS Trustee Institute

Bob Freeman at 6/3/2015 WLS Trustee Institute

  • What is a meeting?
  • What needs to be included in minutes?
  • What is Executive Session?
  • What is a public record?
  • Does everything have to be disclosed for a FOIL request?

The Committee on Open Government’s website is also a great resource.  Not only does it have videos of Bob answering the questions above and many others; but it also has an index where you can look up advisory opinions on Open Meetings Law and FOIL by key phrase.  Yet the best resource of all is Bob himself.  As those who attended the event know, his passion regarding this subject is palpable, and his knowledge and understanding of the spirit of the law is impressive.  He’s written over 25,000 advisory opinions!

In the days following the event, I realize what a special privilege it is to have a State (New York is one of the few) who recognizes the need for Open Government (in the general sense) and its uniqueness to our Country.  With privilege, though, comes responsibility; and I am also realizing the extraordinary responsibility taken on by the library trustees in our County.  Trustees volunteer their time and talents not only to ensure that the resources of their own libraries are being used efficiently towards the library’s goals, but they are the ones who must keep the bigger picture in sight to ensure Open Government and fairness for all in their communities.  I would like to thank the over 300 library trustees in Westchester for their commitment to this unique and vital cause.

Library Advocacy Day 2015

March 13th, 2015 No comments
Library Advocacy Day – February 25, 2015
 A group of 13 library supporters from Westchester joined the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Library Advocacy Day in Albany on Wednesday, February 25.  The group was made up of directors, trustees, staff, and advocates representing the following libraries:  (Armonk) North Castle Public Library; Bedford Free Library; Eastchester Public Library; Irvington Public Library; Mamaroneck Public Library; Mount Pleasant Public Library; Mount Vernon Public Library; New Rochelle Public Library; Pound Ridge Library District; The Warner Library (Tarrytown); Westchester Library System.
Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 37th District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children's Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 92nd  District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children’s Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

We visited all the offices of the 14 legislators who represent Westchester County in the following order:


Our main ask of the legislators was to have Library Aid funded to the full extent of Education Law or $102.6 Million.  This year’s proposed Executive Budget for FY2015-2016 included only $86.6 Million in Library Aid, an amount which reflects levels equivalent to 1997.  The cost of living alone has risen 47% since then!  Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, Chair of the Assembly’s Libraries and Education Technology Committee, has sent a letter to Carl Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly, and Herman Farrell, Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, in support of additional aid for libraries.

Through the efficient, centralized services provided by the public library systems, like Westchester Library System, millions are saved:

            • Facilitating sharing of library materials across the 38 libraries in Westchester
            • Ongoing maintenance of technology services including computers and wireless
            • Cataloging collection holdings for easier discoverability
            • Centralized purchasing of databases
            • County-wide collaboration and innovation

For those who could not attend Library Advocacy Day in Albany, a postcard campaign was held at the libraries in Westchester.  Over 1,700 postcards were sent to our Legislators.

2015 Advocacy Day Postcard-Image

            • Ardsley Public Library
            • Briarcliff Manor Public Library
            • Bronxville Public Library
            • Chappaqua Library
            • Croton Free Library
            • Dobbs Ferry Public Library
            • Eastchester Public Library
            • Harrison Public Library
            • Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library
            • Irvington Public Library
            • Lewisboro Library
            • Hendrick Hudson Free Library (Montrose)
            • New Rochelle Public Library
            • Ruth Keeler Memorial Library (North Salem)
            • Ossining Public Library
            • Pound Ridge Public Library
            • Somers Library
            • Tuckahoe Public Library
            • Yonkers Public Library
            • John C. Hart Memorial Library (Shrub Oak/Yorktown)

Thank you to this year’s dedicated group of Library Advocates—for all the ways in which you participated!   Library Aid is only 1/10 of 1% of the total State budget, and you helped to make our voices heard!

To quote a recent article by Joe Queenan in March 2015 edition of The Rotarian:

The public library is an indispensable institution that somehow manages to get taken completely for granted. Like the clouds above us, like the birds that fill those skies, it is a glorious creation that is hiding in plain sight. Society pays little attention to it, even though society cannot survive without it. Not any real society.

Let’s not take our libraries for granted.  The deadline for an on-time budget is March 31st, so there is still time to contact your legislator and ask them to sign on to Thomas Abinanti’s letter.  You can also click here for NYLA’s Online Advocacy page to send an email message to our legislators that libraries are an excellent investment in New York’s educational and cultural infrastructure.

Elise Burke
Executive Assistant
Westchester Library System



Westchester Library System Learning Ambassadors – Where Awesome Teens Spend Their Saturdays!

March 3rd, 2015 No comments

On Saturday February 28, 21 teens started their training to be summer Library Learning Ambassadors at 9 library locations and 2 childcare centers. What a great group – smart, funny, talented – and eager to do work that engages young children in literacy.

Like every training day for this program, we crammed in the content. This first day was focused on why the work is important, what is expected, how libraries operate and their role in the community, and exploration of types of programs and techniques for engaging children of different ages.

Learning Ambassadors from 2014 came and demonstrated some of their successful programming (which included one of the funniest limbo competitions I’ve ever seen….and a blend of stories and card tricks that worked even when the cards flew to the floor). A 2012 Learning Ambassador returned to teach methods for incorporating math concepts into story-programming.















Favorite moments: (1) After the teens brainstormed a mix of things that could and should be part of library activities, I noted what an amazing collection of services these were to offer “free” in a community (form childcare to maker labs or job search) – and one teen said “but it just makes sense.” (2) In reviewing the library system’s downloadable resources, one young man said excitedly, “oh my god, I didn’t know, I need to do this!”

Libraries….there when you needs us, and when you want to be amazed.

Got Numbers?

February 13th, 2015 No comments

As we start to collect data for the New York State Annual Reports, I thought I would have a little fun with the numbers from 2013, as shown below.  The numbers really do tell a story, so even though completing these Reports can be boring and annoying, let’s try to think of the unlimited possibilities for using all of these facts and figures to convey the importance of libraries and how they can impact the world!

Fun Stats Blog Picture

WLS 55th Annual Meeting – 11/20/2014

December 3rd, 2014 No comments

Librarians, library directors, library trustees, government officials, and friends of libraries gathered on November 20 for the 55 Annual Meeting of the Westchester Library System (WLS) at the Sheraton Tarrytown.

Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Sue Feir, Director, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, Co-Winners of the 2014 WLS Trustees Award

Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Sue Feir, Director, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, Co-Winners of the 2014 WLS Trustees Award

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the second WLS Trustees Award. A total of 14 people representing 9 Westchester libraries received nominations for the Award, which was given for a commitment to provide open access to information and resources that foster innovation, inspiration and lifelong learning based on broad impact, innovation and collaboration. This year’s Award was presented to co-winners: Sue Feir, Director of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library.  A number of their accomplishments were highlighted.

Sue Feir:  

  • Spearheading a small yet transformative project to expand the library’s community room;
  • As creative advocate of collaboration, Ms. Feir recast the library as a host facility for school testing, local artist exhibits and free career counseling and fostered synergy between the library and Hastings Farmer’s Market;
  • Deployed the library to meet a public health need and began an annual blood drive, which in partnership with the New York Blood Center, became a regular library event held three times a year.

Barbara Morrow:

  • Organized various events to celebrate the library’s 100th Anniversary as well as a lecture series titled, Dewey on the Hudson—completing the celebration with a bang-up party and marching band through the streets.
  • Stayed on as President of the Friends to oversee new capital campaign, Above and Beyond: Expanding our Point of View, to extend the community room and build an outside deck overlooking the Hudson River.

The co-winners were presented with a check in the amount of $1,000 to the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, funded by the WLS Trustees. New York State Legislators Thomas Abinanti [92 AD] and Steven Otis [91 AD] were on hand to congratulate the co-winners; and Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky [12 CLD] declared November 21st Sue Feir and Barbara Morrow Day.  All of those nominated (as shown below) were recognized for their outstanding contributions:

Nominee Nominated by Library
Robert Cartolano Tracy Wright Eastchester Public Library
Lillian Hecker Patricia Perito Town of Pelham Public Library
Ann Hein Jeffrey Ault Dobbs Ferry Public Library
Haina Just-Michael Emery Schweig New Rochelle Public Library
Brian Kenney Paul Schwarz White Plains Public Library
Jenny Kolesar Jill Davis Hendrick Hudson Free Library (Montrose)
Gary Page Mary Shah Lewisboro Library
Charlotte Schachter & Ruth Shire, Co‑Presidents of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Public Library Carolyn Karwoski Mount Vernon Public Library
Heide Shilstone Elin Sullivan Bedford Hills Free Library
Tamara Stewart Hafeezah Basir Mount Vernon Public Library
Na’im Tyson, PhD Chris Hansen Mount Vernon Public Library

During the business portion of the evening, presided over by WLS President Chris Hansen, the following trustees were re-elected to a 5-year term expiring as of December 31, 2019:  Mary Amato of Yonkers representing WLS District XV [Yonkers]; Hope Furth of White Plains representing WLS District XI [White Plains]; and Dave Donelson of West Harrison representing WLS District VII [Harrison, Purchase].

WLS Report 2013-14WLS Report 2013-14-Highlights

Terry Kirchner, WLS Executive Director, gave an overview of WLS’s accomplishments in 2014, many of which were noted in the distributed WLS Annual Report 2013-14.

One important task of 2014 concerned the Integrated Library System (ILS).  WLS will continue with the current vendor SirsiDynix and further educate staff about open source products. This well thought-out decision represented a huge time commitment by all who participated on the WLS-Public Library Directors Association (PLDA) ILS Committee.  Other key areas for 2015 identified in conjunction with PLDA include:  providing more eContent; supporting program initiatives such as Creative Aging workshops and Makerspace activities; expanded marketing and further promotion of services available at local libraries; enhanced wireless services with printing options; and of course, training for the ILS and exploring open source products.

Keynote Speaker Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager

Keynote Speaker Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager

Keynote speaker was Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager.  Ms. Willette is responsible for coordinating activities of the ESDN, a statewide service hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which is being administered by Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) in collaboration with eight allied regional library councils collectively working as NY 3Rs Association, Inc.  Ms. Willette gave an overview of the DPLA, which was launched in 2013 with 7.1 Million searchable digital objects, and spoke about what it takes to share data with the DPLA, which is not merely another search engine but a new tool that will help library’s special collections be discovered.  One of the roles of the ESDN will be to contact regional libraries to find out what is being collected and making all libraries aware of how to contribute their content properly.  The DPLA’s progress can be followed via the ESDN website and social media [@NYSdigital]; and Ms. Willette’s presentation has been posted to the WLS website.

Save the Date – #GivingTuesday

November 14th, 2014 No comments


GT-STD-Web-Banner_300x2501#GivingTuesday is a first-of-its-kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners — charities, families, businesses and individuals — to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world.

Taking place December 2, 2014 — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.


How is the Westchester Library System involved?

In advance of December 2nd’s #GivingTuesday, when nonprofits hope pre-holiday shoppers will consider making donations, The Journal News and, in collaboration with Nonprofit Westchester, have compiled a searchable database of nonprofits in Rockland, Westchester and Putnam Counties.

Within this database are opportunities to support local nonprofits by donating money, or volunteering and donating your time to the organization — which is just as valuable, if not more.

#lohudcares database is now available here: