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Residents Give the West Harrison Library a Hug

WEST HARRISON, N.Y. — Residents took the time to give the West Harrison Library a great big hug Saturday afternoon, as National Library Week officially concluded.

The library offered programs and workshops during the past week to celebrate the annual event, said Library Director Galina Chernykh. The purpose of the week was to remind people that libraries are the center of any community, she said.

“We are seeing how important libraries are to people, especially in this economy,” Chernykh said. “We had an operating budget of about $2 million this year, and with our programs and attendance, we were able to serve people with double that amount of money.”

Chernykh said she got the idea to give the library a hug from her time working in New York City public libraries, where she first saw it done. The hug symbolizes the community working as a team to achieve results, Chernykh said.

Harrison Library Trustee Dave Donelson said the symbolic hug represents how much the library has grown. Donelson, who has been president of the Westchester Library Association for a decade, said patronage has grown by “leaps and bounds” over the last 10 years.

“Libraries are a place to meet your neighbors face-to-face with no agenda,” Donelson said. “You can meet people with common interests such as books and movies. There is no other institution in any community that serves that purpose.”

And the library system in Harrison has always welcomed newcomers. Francesca Poletto moved to town about a year ago from Germany. Poletto said the library in West Harrison gave her and her children a place to go when they first moved here.

“The library has helped them learn English and meet other people,” Poletto said.

West Harrison Children’s Librarian Liz Karkoff said that in the six years she has been working at the library, she has seen participation grow and lots of new programs develop.

“More people have been coming to the library,” Karkoff said. “We are also getting a lot more digital access now as well.”

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