Mt. Vernon Public Library open house showcases changes and new director
The Mount Vernon Public Library continues to be treasured by many and viewed as a true Mount Vernon jewel. The community support was impressively evident during their latest open house held on Thursday, April 20, as there was a capacity crowd in attendance.
Like Memorial Field, the library is treasured and considered one of Mount Vernon’s jewels by many.
The library has proudly served this changing and diverse city for over 100 years, having received its charter on March 19, 1896. The document, housed in an oak-paneled closet in the administrative offices, is signed by Melvil Dewey, State Librarian/Secretary to the Board of Regents and a founder of the American Library Association, who is best remembered for developing the Dewey Decimal System for book classification.
The library has experienced difficult times in recent years, which has included a lack of leadership; structural issues; financing and budget problems; unhappy staff members; and it unbelievably came very close to closing its doors.
Thankfully, the library has been reincarnated thanks to the hiring of a new interim director, along with a board of trustees who all have a keen interest in transforming the library into the number one library in all of Westchester County – and they are almost there.
On Tuesday, April 20, the Mount Vernon Library joined the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation and members of the Board of Trustees and held an impressive open house to showcase some of the many exciting and positive changes that have taken place at the library during the last two years. And they also introduced their new interim director to the public.
Besides attracting a capacity crowd, the open house program attracted many high profile guests and there was an abundance of delicious food and drinks.
Opening comments came from Brian G. Johnson, Esq., who acted as the Master of Ceremonies and is a member of the Library Board of Trustees. Assisting him as Mistress of Ceremonies was Cathlin Gleason, also a member of the Library Board of Trustees.
Next to be introduced was Oscar Davis, Jr., president of the Library Board of Trustees.
“I want you to know that we are actually thinking outside the box all the time. We actually have kids learning how to play chess right here,” said Davis.
When introduced by Johnson, Rev. Dr. Darren M. Morton, another library board member, received a rousing applause.
“We hope that the many in attendance will always consider using this wonderful library as a platform for lifelong learning. This library belongs to you and we will make sure it will always meet your needs,” said Rev. Morton.
Next to be introduced by Johnson was Evania Thompson, Esq., who is the new interim library director.
“The Mount Vernon Library is an institution unmatched in its collections. We are moving forward into the future and I will insure that the Mount Vernon Library will excel in its efforts to support the public as they use this wonderful resource,” said Thompson.
After an extensive search, the Library Board of Trustees appointed Mount Vernon resident Thompson as the interim director of the Mount Vernon Public Library, effective March 1. She replaces former director Carolyn Karwoski, who resigned in December amid misconduct charges brought against her by the library’s Board of Trustees.
Thompson earned a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School and is admitted to practice law before the Bar of the State of New York. A Librarian for over seventeen years with nine of them as the Chief Law Librarian/Assistant Corporation Counsel for the New York City Law Department - Office of the Corporation Counsel, she earned a Master of Science from Columbia University's School of Library Service. She has also served as the Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Law Library: an internationally renowned legal research institution, and the largest true public Law Library in the United States and additionally served as the Law Librarian of the College of The Bahamas where she held the rank of Assistant Professor.
Commenting on her recent appointment, Thompson said, “When Andrew Carnegie funded this building more than 100 years ago, he had a vision that the Mount Vernon Library would be a library which would stand out above all others. It is my mission and challenge to perpetuate his vision and insure that the Mount Vernon Library will excel in its efforts to support the public as they use this wonderful resource."
Also introduced was Tanesia Walters, president of the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation. The company she works for has donated numerous computers to the library.
Near the end of the ceremony, musical entertainment was provided by the Mount Vernon City School District Performing and Visual Arts Orchestra, under the direction of Normearleasa Thomas and Mansa Gory.
Evania Thompson, Esq., new Interim Library Director
Oscar Davis, Jr., president of the Library Board of Trustees
(l to r) Rev. Dr. Darren M. Morton, Cathlin Gleason, Brian G. Johnson, Evania Thompson and Oscar Davis, Jr.
Two longtime supporters of the library addressing the guests
Tanesia Walters (r), president of the Library Foundation, speaking to the guests
The Mount Vernon City School District Performing and Visual Arts Orchestra providing musical entertainment