The Westchester Library System (WLS) is a cooperative public library system that supports its 38 member libraries – and by extension – all the people and businesses in Westchester County. WLS offers several unique programs and services to support member libraries’ community engagement efforts.
The WLS Learning Ambassador Program helps teens aged 14-16 to develop 21st century skills through work-based learning, training and mentoring in a public library. This program prepares teens for their first job, develops skills for future employment and encourages the teens to further their education. The libraries receive much needed help over the busy summer months and the teens gain meaningful work experience. A video showcasing the 2013 Learning Ambassador experience was created to capture how this program makes a difference in libraries and their communities and to act as a fundraising tool to help sustain this program.
WLS and its member libraries have actively engaged in creative aging programs over the past five years, helping libraries connect with their senior communities and promote lifelong learning.
In 2014, WLS spearheaded a new Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant to extend the work of Creative Aging in NewYork State Public Libraries. Working with 22 public library systems across 12 states, this program expands arts education in public libraries and positions them as community cornerstones for positive aging.
Senior Benefits Information Centers (SBICs) are counseling centers that help residents aged 60 and older learn about benefits and services to stay healthy, protected and connected, especially popular is assistance with Medicare enrollment. Currently nine library locations throughout the system provide consultation spaces and a telephone help line is available for individuals unable to visit a counseling site.
Today’s job market requires that individuals think differently about how they develop their career path. To meet this need, WLS provides career and education counseling opportunities in member libraries by offering group seminars, workshops and individual counseling for people in career transition. This program, known as WEBS, has proven especially beneficial to individuals aged 50 and over who face the challenge of starting a new career.
Technology has fueled many changes within our communities and WLS works with member libraries to meet the expanding demands. In addition to providing support for public workstations and wireless networks at every member library, there is a strong professional development component as well. WLS technology staff offer learning opportunities for librarians interested in using 3D printers and Arduino microcomputers in maker spaces; provide ongoing training for using smartphones and tablets in libraries; and pilot new e-book products such as Total Boox to help meet patron demand for digital content.
Learn more about WLS by reviewing our 2012-2013 Programs, Activities and Impact report.
WLS is excited to co-host the 2014 LTA Trustee Institute. There is much to see and do in Westchester County – and if time allows we encourage you to spend some time before or after the event to explore the many historic, cultural and recreational resources in our region or check out our member libraries!