The doors continuously streamed with people as community leaders, members, library officials and staff gathered on Wednesday, August 27, at the Morris Park Branch Library to celebrate its second year anniversary.
The library, which is located at 985 Morris Park Avenue, faced a rough beginning according to Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who was proud to celebrate how far the facility had come since finally opening its doors.
“Getting this library was a labor of love,” Vacca said, noting the years his predecessor, Madeline Provenzano, had fought for a library, only to have the building’s landlord hold up the procedure. “Construction took three years and then it took a while to get the certificate of occupancy, so it took even longer to open the doors,” he continued.
Once the doors opened, on July 21, 2006, the community immediately responded and filled its space.
“If you come here 10 minutes before it opens you see a line of people out the door,” states Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta, who participated in both the site selection and fundraising for the library.
Within the last year the library boasts nearly 161,000 community members using the facility, a 23% raise from the previous year. Its circulation, the amount of books checked out by visitors, reached over 158,000, which amounts to a 30% increase.
The Morris Park location reigned seventh in attendance and fifth in circulation of the 35 branches throughout the Bronx. Supervising Librarian, Sandy Henry, who has been with the location since its opening, notes that “we are number one within the district in both categories.”
The library offers specific programs, divided by age, in order to fulfill the needs of all its guests. Children are offered picture book time, craft projects and performances or storytellers on a regular basis. Teens are offered poetry workshops, along with craft projects including jewelry making.
The library holds over 25,000 books, DVDs and audio readings, an increasing number as community members donate old books as a contribution to the community, and 19 computers. Taking full advantage of their resources, the library offers adults computer classes as well.
Much of the library’s success was attributed to the staff. “The staff is wonderful here. They work as a great team and do wonderful things. They really outreach into the community,” explained Mona Mishra, library network manager who oversees 13 branches throughout the Bronx.
Vice president of the Van Nest Community Association, Zena Twyman, explains: “the community definitely needed a library, you can’t go without a library. Reading opens up a whole new world.”
©2008 Community News Group