Talk: Exploring the Role of the City's Public Libraries

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From help learning computer skills, to mastering English as a Second Language, the city’s public libraries are playing a bigger role in their communities. That’s the finding of a recent study by the Center for an Urban Future, and it’s also the topic of a symposium the group is hosting at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street on Monday.

The findings come as no surprise to Sandra Michele Echols, who runs the Queens Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program. She said libraries have long played an important part in their communities. “Public libraries have always been the go-to place for self-education, self-directed learning," she said.

And despite the snowy weather on a recent Friday afternoon, dozens of people milling in and out the front doors of the New York Public Library seemed to agree.

"They’re a cornerstone of our Democracy, they help us learn about ourselves and each other, and they're wonderful gathering places in the community for people who need connections,” said Susan Dooha, who said she visits her local library branch in Brooklyn about once a week.

Hayden Harper, who recently moved to the city from Portland, Oregon, said he comes to the library to read and write. He also said he recently found a resource he didn't even know existed.

“They have this genealogy program where you can track down your ancestry and I’ve never seen that at the public library before, so that’s something I’m really interested in exploring myself," he said.

To read the Center for an Urban Future’s study on the city’s public libraries, click here.