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Zombies, Makerbots: New Chief Reveals Vision For Peekskill's Field Library

Jennifer Brown, new director of the Field Library in Peekskill, is brimming with ideas for growing the library and improving services to patrons. Photo Credit: Carol Reif
Jennifer Brown, right, newly minted director of the Field Library in Peekskill, chats Wednesday with reference librarian and local history specialist Kim Stucko. Photo Credit: Carol Reif

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Zombie sock puppets will save the world. Well, at least the part that contains the Field Library in Peekskill.

Fandom, the community that surrounds a television show, movie or book, is just one of many cultural trends libraries are adopting as they evolve to meet their patrons’ needs in an increasingly digital age.

The Field’s just-installed director, Jennifer Brown, says she is all about exploring new, exciting and creative ways to not only serve current users, but to draw others into the fold.

While acknowledging the “reality” of space, staffing and budgetary constraints, Brown is brimming with ideas about community outreach, creating special spaces for teens’ and children’s programs, support for young adults struggling with college debt, ESL workshops, social media such as Snapchat and Pinterest, the makerbot revolution, online learning and technology. -- to name just a few.

A fan herself of cosplay, or costumed role-playing at venues apart from the stage, Brown once surprised friends and family members who thought they were coming to a Halloween party but found they were actually at her wedding. 

Sometime in the future, the library could be, she said, the setting for an “apocalypse” party where young patrons could come dressed as either one of the walking dead or a survivor, and make things such as the aforementioned zombie sock puppets.

Brown is a native of Illinois and a former Texas resident who now lives in Rockland County. She was formerly the director of the Rose Memorial Library in Stony Point.

A graduate of Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas, Brown holds master’s degrees in public administration and library science. She is currently working on her doctorate in library science.

Meanwhile, she is meeting with and joining local groups, such as the Rotary Club, in order to better know both the diverse Hudson River community -- which she praised for its cultural scene and plethora of hip bars and restaurants -- and the nearly 60,000 Peekskill and Cortlandt folks the library serves.

Brown is also an adjunct lecturer at Queens College.  When she's not working at the library, Brown is a volunteer with two organizations that rescue bull mastiffs.

One of her own pets is a therapy dog that works with the children’s reading program, Tales to Tails.

Brown said, prior to her interview for the Field job, she took a “sneak peek” by coming into the library, but dressed in a T-shirt and jeans instead of a business suit. She said she was bowled over by the library staff’s level of professionalism and helpfulness.

They were so warm and welcoming that, she said, that she knew that this was where she “wanted to be.”

Having multi-faceted and far-reaching goals is great, but bringing them to life requires thinking beyond the physical perimeters of the library itself, Brown said, admitting that there are challenges ahead.

“I’m so looking forward to growing the library with the community, but at the same time, my eyes are wide open,” she said.

The library is at 4 Nelson Ave., Peekskill. It can be reached by calling (914)-737-1212.

For more information about the Field Library and its programs, click here.

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