Wednesday, December 29, 2010

12/28/2010 Mount Vernon Public LIbrary Advocacy

Laurits Andersen Ring, 1898, At Breakfast

Daily Thoughts 12/28/2010

There is an article today from the Mount Vernon Inquirer  that covers the budget hearing last night.  It says people talked about the library going belly up.

There are numerous reasons for supporting public libraries.  These are the reasons for supporting the library from the New York Public Library website.

  • Keep our shelves filled with books and materials that are in high demand.
  • Provide free computer access and Wi-Fi service at all of our 89 locations
  • Make possible daily classes that teach New Yorkers basic computer skills, job search techniques, and reading skills
  • Purchase items to add to our world-renowned research collections to advance scholarship
  • Preserve fragile manuscripts and rare books that have been placed in our care

These same ideas provide an excellent core set of reasons to keep a library open.  There are some thoughts I would like to add to this.

People come in to check out our new material.  They also come for our special collections.  There is a job information center and a large business section.  This helps people find jobs and start businesses in Mount Vernon and Westchester county.  It also keeps the community informed.  There is also no bookstore in Mount Vernon where people can sit and read and purchase books. We are the defacto center for media in Mount Vernon.

We provide  free computer access and wifi to people who do not have access to this.  For poor people, it is important to have access to computers.  Many people cannot get government information except for through a computer or apply for jobs.  I have talked to several patrons who have come in specifically to search for jobs on the internet computers.  There are several people who use the wifi for their business tasks.  Having access to a laptop is enough for many computer people to work from anywhere where there is a wireless connection.  There is no cybercafe in Mount Vernon that I know of.

Mount Vernon Public Library has a literacy center run by Nancy Fitch who helps people to learn to read.  We also have a program called College to Careers which allows young people to work towards their GED and get college preparation.  We also support the schools for their reading assignments and maintain an extensive of classic material for school assignments ranging from Shakespeare to Huckleberry Finn to Pride and Prejudice.  This helps improve the literacy of the students in the schools in Mount Vernon.

On the weekend we have a computers for seniors class which helps seniors learn to use the computers in the computer lab.  We also have a job information center which provides material on how to apply for jobs, houses the listings for Westchester civil service openings, and has a career counselor who helps people get jobs.

Our collection includes a very extensive reference collection.  This includes a legal reference collection, a business reference collection, a government documents collection, a multicultural reference collection, a young adult and childrens reference collection, and numerous databases for the support of research.  Some of these databases also help find jobs like Learning Express.  In addition to the reference collections we maintain special collections for the job information center, foreign language material, periodicals room, parenting material, and an extensive new materials display.

Our library houses the local history collection for Mount Vernon, there is also a separate collection for Westchester history in the mezzanine. We also have the Daily Argus on microfilm which is the local paper going to back to the 19th century.  This is used extensively for genealogy.   In addition, we have a very large collection of oversize books, many of these are out of print or rare art books.  We have been the last copy collection for the last 100 years for the Westchester Library System.  This means we have an extensive amount of 19th century books in our mezzanine storage area which are not available anywhere else.

These are all reasons to support the Mount Vernon Public Library.

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