Celebrate Black History Month At Your Local Westchester Library

February 1st, 2016 No comments

Black History Month is a month set aside to learn, honor, and celebrate the achievements of black men and women throughout history. Learn about famous firsts by black Americans, read the history of black history, and find information about milestones in black history. Check out just some of what’s going on at your local Westchester library this month.

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W.E.B. Du Bois

HARRISON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Live Performance

“W.E.B. Du Bois, a Man for All Times” — Written and directed by Alexa Kelly, presented in conjunction with Pulse Theatre Ensemble. This play entertains and enthralls, as it compels the viewer to travel on this near-100-year journey. The audience is brought to laughter and tears. Sunday, February 7, 2-4 pm, Richard E. Halperin Memorial Library Building.
Film

SELMA: A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Starring David Oyelowo; PG-13, 128 minutes. Saturday, February 20, 1-3:30 pm, Richard E. Halperin Memorial Library Building.

MOUNT VERNON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Book Discussion

Brian G. Johnson, trustee of the Mount Vernon Public Library, will be leading a book discussion of Richard Wright’s “Native Son” at the library on Monday, Feb. 29.This Black History Month event will examine whether the conditions and circumstances that prevailed during “Native Son” protagonist Bigger Thomas’s time still exist today. 6 – 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Nishan Stepak, nstepak@wlsmail.org.

NEW ROCHELLE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Family Workshops: African Dance

Saturdays: January 30 – February 27, 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 pm Ossie Davis Theater

Anthony Wooden, Director of Bokandeye African Dance and Drum Troupe returns to the library for another series of free African dance workshops for children ages 7 and up, as well as their parents. This popular series, now a tradition at the library, provides instruction of native African dance, while also instilling an understanding of the rich cultural meanings of the movements, rhythms and dress, African village life, and the role of the extended family.  Registration will take place at the first class. Made possible by the Friends of the New Rochelle Public Library. Free.

Bokandeye African Dance and Drum Performance

Saturday, February 27, 2:00 pm

Bokandeye’s 20th Annual Performance at NRPL! Traditional movements and rhythms of African village life will reverberate throughout the Ossie Davis Theater, and the audience will be swept up by this exhilarating performance by Bokandeye Dance Troupe and students, directed by the fabulous Anthony Wooden. Be sure to arrive early! First come, first-served, to the capacity of the main library’s  Ossie Davis Theater. Made possible by the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District

Exhibit: Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life

February 8 – February 29

This original exhibit of photographs, artifacts, art work and personal items tracing the extraordinary career of musician Billy Strahorn is based on a recently-released book of the same title. Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, written by A. Alyce Claerbaut and David Schlesinger, and the exhibit, curated by Leslie Demus, Theresa Kump Leghorn, and designed by Jesse Sanchez, celebrates the centennial of the birth of the American jazz composer, pianist, lyricist, and arranger.

Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life Documentary Film and Reception with Glenda Davenport and the Hiroshi Yamazaki Trio

Sunday, February 21, 4:00 pm – 5:30: film; 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Music & Reception

As Duke Ellington’s long-time collaborator, Billy Strayhorn penned some of the world’s most definitive jazz standards. Nearly half a century after his death, however, Strayhorn’s musical genius remains unrecognized. In the 2007 Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life documentary, directed by Robert Levi, the mystery behind the complex life of this pioneering composer, arranger and pianist gets uncovered, bringing his rich legacy to light. Following the film, a reception will feature jazz singer Glenda Davenport and the Hiroshi Yamazaki Trio performing a set of standards, including hits of Strayhorn and Ellington.

SOMERS LIBRARY

Check out these children’s book recommendations on Pintrest:

https://www.pinterest.com/somerslibrary/black-history-month/

(TARRYTOWN) THE WARNER LIBRARY

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Gallery Exhibit

Annual African American History Month Gallery Exhibit featuring several local African American artists. This year we are displaying the work of Donald Whitely, Steven Ferri, and Hilary Blackman. Their biographies are available on our website http://www.warnerlibrary.org/fitzgerald-gallery. The exhibit will be up for the full month of February.

(YORKTOWN) JOHN C. HART MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Yorktown Historical Society Program

“History of Slavery and Slavery in the Area” by Mike Kahn, Board Member and Leader of Pines Bridge Monument. Thursday, February 18 at 7:30 pm. All are welcome. No registration.

Live Performance

Sunday, February 21, 2pm

“W.E.B. Du Bois, a Man for All Times” –Written and directed by Alexa Kelly, presented in conjunction with Pulse Theatre Ensemble. This play entertains and enthralls, as it compels the viewer to travel on this near-100-year journey. Brian Richardson portrays W.E.B. DuBois, a black American born just after the Civil War, and 5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Du Bois broke many barriers: he attended and graduated from Harvard, studied in Europe, ran for Senator, co-found the NAACP, participated in the founding of the United Nations and saw segregation declared unconstitutional. No registration, doors open at 1:45 pm.

Public Libraries Offer Career Counseling and Life Planning

January 5th, 2016 No comments

clip_image002WEBS Career and Educational Counseling Service will be offering two types of free eight-week career counseling and life planning programs in public libraries throughout the County this winter. WEBS is sponsored by the Westchester Library System.

The first type of program is called a Managing Your Career in Changing Times. It will help adults assess themselves, explore career options, obtain career and educational information, find out about the latest trends in resumes and job search, and develop a career plan.  The program is geared to those who are unemployed, changing careers, reentering the workforce or returning to school. The seminar will be offered at three public libraries: Town of Pelham Public Library on Tuesday evenings, Greenburgh Public Library on Wednesday afternoons and Somers Library on Wednesday mornings. All programs will start in early March.

The second type of program is called Take Charge! Career/Life Planning After 50.  Its purpose is to help adults over 50 assess themselves and plan a direction for the next stage of life.  Options that will be considered include part/time or full/time work, volunteerism, entrepreneurial ventures, and learning and leisure opportunities. These programs will be offered at the Chappaqua Public Library on Tuesday mornings and the Yonkers Public Library (Will Branch) on Thursday afternoons. Both programs are nineteen-hour seminars consisting of an orientation session, eight weekly group sessions and one individual session with a career counselor. They will begin early March.

Individuals can find out about exact dates and times and register for a seminar by calling WEBS at 674-3612 on or after January 11, 2016.

Pull up a Chair at the Library – Discover services that can benefit you now

November 17th, 2015 No comments

At a recent visit to the New York Library Association’s Annual Conference 2015, Program Coordinator Marissa Richardson spoke about her project, Pull up a Chair at the Library.

Intended for adults aged 50 and older, the program focuses on four key areas: Jobs, Family, Health and Home. Patrons are invited to pull up a chair for a discussion with a knowledgeable counselor to identify and assess eligibility for programs and resources than can offer needed support.

This project is currently available at the Yonkers Riverfront Library. For more information, please visit  http://www.westchesterlibraries.org/services-programs/pull-up-a-chair/

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, Lynda.com 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 lynda.com Profile
  • Browse courses and save what you like to your own Playlist.
  • Your progress is saved and easy to view in your lynda.com 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 www.westchesterlibraries.org.

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:

TalkingPoint-SavingsImage

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.

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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.