Column: Our library is a jewel of the community

Mayor-MarvinWhile walking home from Village Hall this week, I crossed at the library corner and realized what a gem, and a sometimes hidden gem, we have in this institution.

Begun as a reading room in 1875, our formal library has been in its current home since 1942. Our library, thanks to an innovative director, a proactive Board of Trustees, a talented and energetic Friends of the Library board and your generous donations, is so much more than a repository of books and tapes. It is a center of music, culture, learning, fun and an integrated partner/connector with all of our village institutions.

As illustration, just recently our library was awarded a very prestigious Arts Westchester grant, which will fund art installations this fall that connect the library users to the Bronxville Farmers Market, the objective being to promote the appreciation for the role that local plays in improving the health and lifestyles of village residents.

Our library also works closely with all of our educational institutions.

Just this past Thursday, the library collaborated with Sarah Lawrence College on a second annual springtime celebration of poetry, which featured poets from Sarah Lawrence College sharing their writings on history, legacy and community.

During this poetry month, more than 40 Bronxville public school students attended a poetry slam event and an upcoming evening will showcase local book authors.

Ensconced in a beautiful historic building lending to a reading-at-home feel, the library is also the backdrop for a very impressive fine arts collection of American paintings from 1890 to 1930.

Programs offered are varied and interests span every age group. Our time honored children’s story hours and activities continue to increase in popularity and elementary art and craft classes are now interspersed on the schedule.

On some nights, even magical things happen at our library.

After stories and songs for children ages 3 and above, the teddy bears brought to the library by the participants can stay for an overnight visit. The teddy bear owners can then witness their bears, who seem to get into all kinds of mischief, at play. Bears were caught roasting marshmallows and even making long distance calls.

All are invited to join a library book group, take Mahjong lessons and join a knitting group that makes blankets and scarves for those in need. Teen movie matinees are part of the program as well as an Oscar movie series.

And if getting up to speed in the technological world is a goal, the library offers regular classes in computer skills and e-reader instructions.

Should you not desire a lesson or even a book, just walk in our library and you will be able to get a copy of the New York Times crossword puzzle, read one of the 80 periodicals available or take advantage of a free museum pass service.

Thanks to the Friends of the Library, library card holders can sign-out free passes to a dozen museums including the Frick, the Air and Space Museum, The Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim just to name a few.

According to library director, Gabriella Radujko, one of the most important roles of the library is to engage library users in conversation about what is important to them. Armed with this information, programs are added and tailored and decisions about purchases of materials are considered. The addition of independent and foreign films were a direct result of patron feedback.

The library also has a unique resource for parents in the Children’s Room—a guide to help select age-appropriate books for their youngsters. “Big Nate” books continue to be off the charts in popularity.

As for adult preferences, “The Goldfinch”, “Flash Boy” and “Be Careful What You Wish For” lead as most requested. Local movie favorites are the “Wolf of Wall Street” and “August Osage County.”

Not surprisingly, given the dreadful winter, there has been a recent run on our landscape and gardening collection. Regardless of the recent trends, the love of the traditional book remains strong at our library.

In 2013, more than 46,000 adult books were circulated and, even more impressive, more than 45,000 children’s books were checked out. More than 8,800 audio units were downloaded and the library staff accommodated 138,791 visits just last year.

Never more in its history, thanks to the efforts of a strong and loyal staff and committed and enlightened board members, has our current library embodied the wishes of its very first library board president, Ernest Quantrell, who, in 1942 said, “A library should not only be a storehouse for books and a shelter for readers, but also an influence on the community.”