Winter 2011

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

System Overview

by System Director Terry Kirchner

Winter 2011 issue of Trustee

The Westchester Library System (WLS) is a cooperative public library system providing services to 38 libraries located in 44 physical locations throughout Westchester County. With a population of almost 960,000 individuals, Westchester County encompasses a wide range of socio-economic, ethnic and age characteristics:

• 9.9% of family incomes are $24,999 or less, placing many below poverty levels

• 22 % of family incomes are $200,000 or more

• 19.5% of all residents self-identify as Hispanic or Latino

• 15.7 % of all residents self-identify as Black or African-American

• 23.9% of residents are younger than 18 years of age, and

• 26.3% of residents are 55 years of age or older.

WLS identifies opportunities to assist populations in need and works with member libraries and other community partners to locate or create the needed resources and services.

In Westchester County, 32% of all 8th grade students failed to meet proficiency on their most recent state mandated math tests. Through the Mixing in Math program, WLS provides children’s librarians with the skills and materials they need to promote math literacy activities for youth aged 5-12. These activities help children be better prepared to succeed in the school classroom and in the future job market.

Individuals without a high school degree or GED earn on average $385,000 less over their lifetime than their peers who have a diplomai. In Westchester County, 12.8% of Westchester County residents over age 18 do not have a high school diploma or a GED. Since there are only a few GED instructional programs available in Westchester, WLS staff developed a web tutorial portal and a printed handbook to help adults study for and pass the GED. This portal and handbook showcase free resources and services available onsite at the member libraries or online for library cardholders.

The 7% unemployment rate in Westchester County indicates that approximately 34,000 individuals at any given time are actively seeking employment. The Career & Educational Counseling Services works closely with participating member libraries to help individuals manage their careers, redefine their career options and strengthen their job searching skills. Many of the seminars offered have been geared to individuals aged 50 or older who have recently found themselves unemployed and unprepared for the new employment landscape.

WLS has partnered with local agencies and member libraries to support Senior Benefits Information Centers. These centers help older adults and their caregivers understand benefits and services that will allow them to live more independent, healthy lives in Westchester County, even on a limited budget. Many areas of assistance are offered including:

• Medicare health and prescription plans

• Nutrition assistance, and the

• Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).

These are challenging times for WLS and with challenges come new opportunities. WLS will explore these new opportunities and still remain true to our mission of helping libraries to successfully engage with all members of their communities.

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