April 2014 Bookmark: The Borrowers Speak … What Pelham People Love About Their Library

April 2014 Bookmark: The Borrowers Speak … What Pelham People Love About Their Library

Ask people in Pelham to talk about why they love their Library and you’ll get plenty of volunteers. So, in honor of the theme of National Library Week (April 13 – 19), which is “Lives change @ your library,” the Bookmark did just that. We discovered how well the library serves Pelham, and not just as a place to borrow books.

Take the story of Gwen Miller-Topogna, who has lived in Pelham since 1998. “Every stage of my life, I’ve had a different reason for using it,” she explains. Early on, when her house had but one air conditioner, the Library became a place to study for her architectural exams on a summer day.

Now, it’s central to her family’s summers for another reason: her children are enthusiastic participants in the Library’s Summer Reading Program. “It’s part of our summer routine,” says Miller-Topogna, an avid borrower of books from throughout the Westchester Library System via the Library Website.

For Katharine Page, the Library builds her curriculum. A specialed teacher and leader of the Pelham-based Confident Kid Club, Page  says, “A lot of what I work on with kids is through children’s literature.” She also just visits on the weekends, taking a stroll over to pick a book—cookbooks are a favorite. And, she admits, she’s a contributor in another way. “I’m also a big supporter with my overdue fees,” she says. “But I don’t mind.

Cathy Draper, Pelham’s first representative to the board of the Westchester Library System, serves as a reminder that the Library we know today wasn’t always like this. Draper—who admits to being one of the Pelham Library’s top borrowers—came to the community years ago from Brooklyn with her husband and two children. The family had lived across the street from the massive main branch of the borough’s public library. The Pelham Library was then located in two rooms in the Hutchinson School and was only for Village of Pelham residents. It was so small that even her three-year-old was unimpressed. “She just couldn’t imagine that this was the Library,” Draper recalls.

Today’s Library impresses young and old. On the younger side, there are kids like 10-year-old Aiden Levy, a fifth-grader at Siwanoy School, who says he visits “pretty much every other day.” He adds, “It’s very close and you can get a wide selection of books there.” Right now, he’s reading two book series: The Underland Chronicles and The Jaguar Stones. He sometimes attends the Library’s Fun Fridays and went to his first Homework Help session last week. “It was pretty cool,” he said. Much of the time, he comes with his brother. “I take out books and my little brother takes out Scooby-Doo movies,” he explains.

Chloe Jones, a sophomore at Pelham Memorial High School, is way past the Scooby-Doo stage, but she remembers her younger years at the Library well. “I grew up basically at the Library,” she recounts. “I remember walking there and we’d take out this huge stack of books.” Now, as a teenager, she frequently volunteers, at events like Fun Friday or last October’s Pelham Reads.

Lastly, there’s this appreciation from Pelham mom Christa Davis Acampora, who told the Bookmark over Facebook last week: “It is thanks to the Pelham Library that my son fell asleep clutching his globe tonight. The collection of books on different countries really set him ablaze. …And now I know more than I ever thought I would about Moldova.”
Wanted: A Few Good – and Game – Dinner Hosts for Novel Night 2014

Fall may seem far off, but the Friends of the Pelham Public Library are deep in the planning stages for Novel Night 2014, on Saturday, November 15. For Pelhamites who are unfamiliar with Novel Night, it is an every-other-year fundraiser; its proceeds are a major source of funding for the Library. The evening features small dinners at homes and venues throughout Pelham, followed by dessert, cocktails and dancing at the New York Athletic Club.

The Friends are currently looking for people to host the evening’s novel-themed dinners. Hosts can pick any novel that hasn’t been featured at the last three Novel Nights; guests dress in the spirit of the novel, as seen here. [I’ll be including some pictures to send to Maggie.] (This attendee of “The Hunger Games” dinner during Novel Night 2012 will not soon forget being served a cocktail in a jelly jar. Very District 12.)

Potential themes could be current bestsellers such as Andy Weir’s The Martian or Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga’s The Fall of the Governor, Pt. 2 from the Walking Dead series, or classics that Novel Night hasn’t featured recently or ever, from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The possibilities are almost endless.

Hosts need to be able to seat multiples of 12. If a couple hosts by themselves, they will need to seat ten guests and then reserve two seats for themselves; if two couples host together, they need to seat 20 guests and reserve four seats. Hosts get a free ticket to the event, as the dinner is their contribution to Novel Night.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a dining room table worthy of “Citizen Kane.” Dinners do not have to be huge, or even “sit down” – a buffet, casual seating, or even seating on the floor can work. It’s all about having the setting and book align.

For the complete list of books featured at earlier Novel Nights, and if you have questions or might be interested in hosting, please contact either Elaine Chang at elainemchang@aol.com or Sun Sun Chung at chungmcnulty@gmail.com. Get ready for November!

Storytime: Tuesdays for ages 3 – 5, 10:30 a.m.; Wednesdays for kids to age 2, 10:30 a.m.

Bilingual Storytime: Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. This program offers a story and activities in Spanish and English. For children from pre-school through mid-elementary school.

Homework Help: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. For children in grades 1 – 8. Students must bring their written assignments and textbooks.

Fun Friday: April 4, 7 – 9 p.m.  Drop off your first- through fifth-grader to enjoy a movie, arts and crafts and more. Homework assistance and tutoring are also available. Pre-registration is for this session only; call (914) 738-1234. The next Fun Friday is on May 2.

Chess Mates: Thursday, April 17 and 24; May 8, 15 and 29, 7 – 9 p.m. Taught by chess instructor John Gallagher, for ages five and up. Register your children by calling (914) 738-1234; siblings and parents are welcome.



The Library is having programs for children most weekdays during the upcoming school spring vacation. No registration is required.

Concordia Conservatory Musical Adventures at the Library: Monday, April 14, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Concordia College’s Music Conservatory will come to the Library, telling two African folk tales with percussion.

Greenburgh Nature Center: Tuesday, April 15, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The Greenburgh Nature Center will be bringing members of its animal menagerie to the Library.

Lego Day: Thursday, April 17, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. The Library has the Legos, the kids bring the ideas to this session with the famous building-block toy.

Screening of “Frozen”: Friday, April 18, 2:00 p.m. (Run time: 102 minutes). This Academy-Award winning Disney movie is still in movie theaters, but come see it at the Library for free.

Adult Book Club: Thursday, April 3, 7:30 p.m. The Book Club will discuss The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.

Eight-Week Career Counseling Seminar: The next session of this seminar, “Managing Your Career in Changing Times” is on Monday, March 31, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Registered students only. Remaining sessions are on Monday April 7, 21 and 28. A make-up class will be on Monday, May 5. The program is sponsored by the Westchester Library System’s WEBS Career and Educational Counseling Service.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: From Pinstripes to Pete: Thursday, May 22, 7:30 p.m. Sports Illustrated managing editor Kostya Kennedy will be at the Library to discuss his just-released book, Pete Rose: An American Dilemma, in the second part of the Library’s baseball author series.

Computer Training: Want to learn Microsoft Word or Excel, or learn how to use the Library’s many apps? Call (914) 738-1234 to make a Monday morning appointment for individualized training.

(Library programs are free and open to the public.)


Reprinted from The Pelham Weekly, Friday, March 28, 2014, Page 6. Used by permission.

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