Library gift that mat-ters

Nothing gives Edith Blitzer more joy than to see small children jumping with excitement.

As president of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, Blitzer believes a well-rounded child can be a better neighbor.

“If you could start at a young age in preparing these children,” said Blitzer, “maybe we won’t have some graffiti artists out on the streets.”

It’s one of the reasons why the PPNA helped donate a collection of 26 new floor mats to the Van Nest Public Library to replace rundown ones in library’s children’s section, where laughter and learning often go together.

As Blitzer saw it, the simple gesture was a win-win.

“It fit right into our budget,” she said. “And we were able to do something for the little ones.”

Decked with a letter of the alphabet, the colorful cushions were certainly welcomed by parents who stopped by the unveiling the morning of April 9, or “toddler time” as head librarian David Nochimson put it.

The children’s section serves as a vital nurturing stage for kids ages 12 to 18 months, said Nochimson.

“It introduces them to a place that welcomes them,” said Nochimson.
The ceremony also drew PPNA members and elected officials, with Nochimson filling the role of storyteller at the children’s section.

“We had more than 20 kids and almost as many parents,” said Nochimson, who also peppered the ceremony with music and dance.

Blitzer gives plenty of credit to PPNA member Jeffrey Panish for crafting the mat idea.

A regular volunteer at the library, Panish discussed what was needed for the kid’s section with children’s librarian Ignayra Lopez over. The mats, having been tossed around by the tykes since 2006, were primed for replacement.

The contribution was also a vote of confidence for Nochimson, well-received by neighbors since first taking the helm as lead librarian two years ago.

With the mat project satisfied, Blitzer isn’t stopping to help spruce up the book depository.

“My next step,” she said, “is to talk with David to see what we can do for the older children.”

Reach David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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