Westchester Libraries Are Moving Beyond Books — and Becoming Cultural and Community Centers

Here are some of the happenings that make your local library, dare we say, the place to be.

Books are, of course, central to what public libraries are all about — and the role they play in fostering literacy is of the utmost importance.

But our 44 public libraries are more than just book repositories. They are also cultural centers, digital-inclusion bastions (thanks to free Wi-Fi and computer access), and, increasingly, community-event hubs with innovative social programming that engages and enlightens.

The following pictorial essay showcases some of the happenings that make your local library, dare we say, the place to be.

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Laugh-out-loud comedy has come to the Lewisboro Library two years in a row, courtesty of local group Hard Headed Comedy, which brings NYC-caliber talent to Westchester and helps boost women and people of color in comedy. This sold-out show in October featured comedians Michele Durante, Joe Cuomo, Frank Favia, Alex Kollar, and Bill Cannon.


Photo provided by New Rochelle Library

New Rochelle

The acclaimed Calpulli Mexican Dance Company came to New Rochelle Public Library this summer to teach children and students dances from various regions of Mexico. Since Calpulli’s first visit to New Rochelle, in the summer of 2012, the group continues to bring its spectacular costumed performances to the library. Their next workshop will be in January 2020, leading up to a Jan 5 performance celebrating Three Kings’ Day.


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photo by elizabeth hobson


Dobbs Ferry

This Dinosaurs Rock program was presented courtesy of the Friends of the Dobbs Ferry Library organization on behalf two young girls who asked party guests to donate money to the library in lieu of birthday gifts for themselves. The science-minded girls chose the dinosaur program, and some 75 guests attended.


photos provided by dave donelson

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Harrison Library’s Learn2Play program on Sept 7 drew more than 3,000 kids and parents — three times the number of attendees from the program’s first year, 2016. With more than 40 hands-on activities, including a Bubble Bus, the Cooking Crew, and participatory dance by the New York Performing Arts Center, Learn2Play is an annual celebration of childhood learning through play.


photo provided by mallory marinaro



The Ossining Public Library has been hosting concert series since its 2007 renovation added the 250-seat Camille Budarz Theater. The library offers a concert on most Sundays, as well as special concert events throughout the year, bringing free music programming to the community.


photo provided by linda smith



When children started showing interest earlier this year in the library’s adult Paint Night series, Linda Smith at Purchase Free Library started Kid’s Paint Day. The popular program is open to all school-aged children, and the Purchase Community House lets children from their after-school program participate. Smith hosts Kid’s Paint Day and picks artwork that “is easy to do and fun to make for the kids.”




photo provided by greenburgh library



The original Greenburgh library building opened in 1968 at 22,000 square feet. A $20 million renovation/expansion in 2008 brought the library to its current, striking glass form, at a capacious 45,000 square feet. Last year, the library had 279,662 visitors and offered 1,498 programs.


photo provided by john bruno turiano



The Katonah Village Library was established in 1881 on Railroad Ave in Old Katonah. Its current Bedford Road location opened in 1930 and received renovations/expansions in the 1970s and 1990s. Last year, the library served more than 148,000 visitors, who  checked out some 115,000 books and other library materials.


photo provided by donna pesce


Briarcliff Manor

This 1906 Tudor Revival-style building — which formerly housed the Briarcliff train station — is now home to the Briarcliff Manor library (with close to 37,000 books) and the William J. Vescio Community Center. The building is located in historic Law Park, adjacent to a pavilion and the village pool.


photo provided by susan thaler



Opened in 1962, the Grinton I. Will Branch of the Yonkers Public Library began an extensive exterior renovation in 2017 that at press-time was scheduled for completion in November. The 57,000 sq. ft. branch can hold an impressive 150,000 books at capacity.


photo provided by mallory marinaro



Originally known as the Sing Sing Public Library, the Ossining Public Library started in 1914 with a collection of 700 books. The library relocated to its new home in 2007 and currently serves nearly 35,000 patrons.


photos by doug schneider


Mount Vernon

The third annual Mount Vernon Public Library Comic Expo on Sept 28 brought together artists, vendors, and special guests — as well as die-hard comic fans. The free event featured workshops, gaming, and musical performances for comic-lovers of all ages.


photo by elise m. landesberg


Hendrick Hudson

Beginning in October 2018, Hendrick Hudson Public Library kicked off a series of Sunday-afternoon concerts in their Constance Dyckman Community Room. Concerts are currently scheduled through March 2021, with a variety of musical acts ranging from classic rock to American folk.


photo provided by jennifer brown



At Peekskill’s Field Library, patrons can enjoy a live animal show by Animal Embassy, a part of the library’s “Library Live” program. For the past two years, more than 200 patrons have attended this interactive show.Animal Embassy founder Chris Evers allows the attendees to hold —and sometimes even feed — the animals.


photo provided by jack weiss



Now in its fourth year at Mamaroneck Public Library, Girls Who Code is a free program for girls ages 12-18 to learn more about coding and help them feel comfortable in a field that is dominated by men. The program, which lasts up to eight months and is open to all experience levels, is currently scheduled for Monday-evening meetings through April 2020.


Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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