Westchester Library System holds 55th Annual Meeting

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

Left to right: Barbara Morrow, President, Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library and Sure Feir, Director, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library.

“The decisions made in 2014 are an excellent example of the power of collaboration and will provide a foundation to move forward with new technological advances,” said Terry Kirchner, WLS Executive Director.

The highlight of the Westchester Library System Annual Meeting was the presentation of the 2nd WLS Trustees Award. A total of 14 people representing 9 Westchester libraries received nominations for the Award. 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. This year’s award was given for commitment to provide open access to information and resources that foster innovation, inspiration and lifelong learning. A number of accomplishments were highlighted from each of their nominations.

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 [92nd Assembly District] and Steven Otis [91st Assembly District] were on hand to congratulate the co-winners; and Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky [12th District] presented proclamations to the co-winners and declared November 21st Sue Feir and Barbara Morrow Day. All those nominated were recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Terry Kirchner, WLS Executive Director, gave an overview of WLS’s accomplishments in 2014, including highlights from the following programs: Westchester Seniors Out Speaking (WSOS); Senior Benefit Information Centers (SBIC); WEBS Career and Educational Counseling Service; (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) TASC Connect!; and Library Ambassadors. The first WLS Battle of the Books was held in October. Teams made up of students Grades 4-6 and Grades 7-9 were given a list of books to read and then they answered questions in a friendly and fun competition to promote the love of reading.

Another 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. A huge time commitment was made by all who participated on the WLS-Public Library Directors Association (PLDA) ILS Committee that resulted in this well thought-out decision. Along with training for the new ILS and exploration of open source products, other key areas for 2015 were identified in conjunction with PLDA including: 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 defining WLS’s role with the emergence of the digital public library.

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 their website and social media.

About the Westchester Library System
The mission of the Westchester Library System (WLS) is to ensure that all residents have seamless access to excellent library service throughout Westchester County. WLS provides model programs, affordable and easy-to-use information technology, and support services that enable its 38 member public libraries to continuously improve service to their communities.

The Westchester Library System is located at 540 White Plains Road, Suite 200, Tarrytown, NY 10591. Visit the WLS website at http://www.westchesterlibraries.org.

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Elise Burke

Kate Meyer
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