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November 27, 2023
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Dora Ricci


New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries Recognizes the Yonkers Public Library With the 2023 Shubert Library Excellence Award

The New York State Library and the New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries have selected the Yonkers Public Library to receive the distinguished 2023 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced today. This commendation, accompanied by $1,000 and a commemorative certificate, is courtesy of The Friends of the New York State Library. The Award honors the achievements of libraries that have taken significant steps to improve the quality of service for library users. The Yonkers Public Library was selected in acknowledgement of its outstanding Summer Reading Buddies Program, which trains volunteer mentors, who are mainly older adults, in the best practices around reading with and to new readers, many of whom are first-generation English speakers.

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, “Congratulations to the Yonkers Public Library on receiving the revered 2023 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award. The impact of their Summer Reading Buddies program extends far beyond the pages of a book. The program is an excellent example of the importance of fostering a vibrant and supportive learning environment for residents of all ages while also focusing on the broader needs and well-being of the greater community.”

Commissioner Rosa said, “The Yonkers Public Library’s Summer Reading Buddies Program exemplifies the transformative power of intergenerational mentorship and literacy initiatives. The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award recognizes their unwavering commitment to fostering a love for reading and enriching the lives of our community members. Congratulations to the library and the program participants for such a powerful demonstration of the value of community connections and for making a difference in the lives of both the mentors and students.”

The Summer Reading Buddies program is offered in partnership with the Family Services Society of Yonkers and hosted at Yonkers Public Library’s Riverfront Library, located in downtown Yonkers. Originally launched in 2004, Summer Reading Buddies expanded following the COVID-19 pandemic by adding community partners, including Yonkers Public Schools, local STEM organizations, financial and health literacy partners, elected officials, and more. This enabled the program to extend beyond reading into offering wraparound services for families, including nutritional support, parenting workshops, fun and inviting programs and spaces, and intergenerational mentorship and relationship building. The program not only provides the educational benefits of reading but also supports the physical, social, and emotional health of the participants.

In 2023, the Yonkers Public Library hosted 110 mentors and 397 students for each of its six weeks, with students reading 1,822 books. While doing so, the library also distributed 350 meals per day to families in need, for a total of 6,228 meals over the course of the program. The Joseph F. Shubert Excellence Award was officially presented to the Yonkers Public Library at the recent New York Library Association Conference held in Saratoga, New York on November 1st.

The Joseph F. Shubert Excellence Award is given annually to recognize the achievements of libraries and library consortia in New York State. The Award honors libraries or library consortia that have taken significant steps within the past two years to improve the quality of library service to users. Joseph F. Shubert served as New York State Librarian from 1977 to 1996. 

The Regents Advisory Council on Libraries was established by the Board of Regents in 1894 to serve as a library council with whom the Regents “may consult whenever the advice or cooperation of experts may be desirable.” It consists of 15 members from diverse library backgrounds and advised the Regents, the Department, and the State Library on important library issues.

The New York State Library is part of the Office of Cultural Education within the New York State Education Department. The New York State Library celebrated its bicentennial in 2018. The Library serves three major constituencies. The Regent Joseph E. Bowman Jr. Research Library, established by law in 1818, collects, preserves, and makes available materials that support State government work.

The Library's collections, now numbering more than 20 million items, may also be used by other researchers onsite, online, and via interlibrary loan. The Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) lends braille, audiobooks, magazines, and special playback equipment to residents of the 55 upstate counties of New York State who cannot read printed materials because of a visual or physical disability. 

The Division of Library Development works in partnership with 72 library systems to bring library services to millions of people who use New York's academic, public, school, and special libraries. Library Development also administers State and Federal grant programs that provide aid for library services.

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