New York Public Library Offers New Programs in the Bronx


The NYPL begins new programs in their Bronx libraries.

Multiple New York Public Library (NYPL) branches in the Bronx are offering new in-person back-to-school educational programs this fall. Launched on Sept. 20, the programs are designed to help students with school and provide free educational resources. 

Alexandria Abenshon, manager for School-Age Children’s Programming at the NYPL, said that the programs are aimed at addressing some COVID-19 related discrepancies in services. “We want to reach out to historically under-resourced places. We are pushing our resources to branches that need support the most,” said Abenshon. 

There are four different programs that select Bronx branches are participating in. The first is STEAM Discovery Kits to help students develop their science, technology, engineering, art and math skills. Another program is NYPL After School, a free drop-in program that helps students aged six  to 12 with their homework. Third, the Teen Reading Ambassadors program offers students a chance at a paid internship, where they help the students in the NYPL After School program. The final program is College and Career Pathways, which gives high school students the chance to explore different career and educational opportunities. 

“Our goal is always to inspire life-long learning for kids through reading and tinkering,” said Abenshon. “When we look at the STEAM kits, it gives kids an opportunity to understand that STEAM is actually accessible. It is a good opportunity for them to engage with coding, stargazing and robotics. It removes a barrier that was in place. The kits are free with a library card and a great opportunity to drive interest in communities. Women in STEAM is something I have always been passionate about, and it would be great to see young ladies grabbing kits and becoming future scientists.” 

The Bronx Library Center, which is close to Fordham’s campus, is one of the branches that are participating in these programs. 

“The Bronx Library Center is the flagship location for the Bronx,” said Melissa Davis, branch manager for Bronx Library Center. “We are trying to work together with the community to reengage and reconnect with the public. We know it has been a long 16 months, so we are looking for a variety of ways to reconnect with New Yorkers.”

Davis said she was ready to kick off the programming at the Bronx Library Center. “This Monday, our NYPL After School Program is starting, and we are very excited about it,” she said. “There will be a tutor where children can get a one-on-one assistant. The transition from virtual to back in person can be difficult for some kids, especially reengaging in the school setting. Some might need extra help with their homework and assignments, and it is a free service offered here.”

In addition to the programs, Davis said the library also offers other resources and programs for all ages, including children, teens and adults. “Patrons will come to us if they do not have the resources at home,” said Davis. “Public computers are free of charge. People can use them for researching, school, personal reasons, job searches and extracurricular activities.”

Overall, Davis  believes the library and its many services positively impact its Bronx neighbors. “We offer these services because we want to create a welcoming environment for the community,” she said.

In the future, when it is safe and feasible, the Bronx Library Center is also excited to bring back live programs in their auditorium, such as stage plays, musicals and poetry slams, which are all free, said Davis. 

Though there have been difficulties with the pandemic, libraries have taken it as a learning experience, said Abenshon. “Every organization with in-person work has struggled throughout the last 18 months,” she said. “These programs are a good opportunity to innovate and think differently. It is a good opportunity for us to be creative and think about how we can better serve the community.”