Digital Literacy Tops Library’s New Year’s Resolutions

In addition to the new Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Collection, the Roosevelt Island public library is also ringing in the new year with new resources for parents, additional programming, and plans to create an oral history of the Island.


Children’s librarian Jennifer Meinhardt won an NYPL grant to purchase 12 iPads for the branch, in addition to a selection of early literacy apps geared toward young children. The goal is to use the iPads in a family literacy workshop to teach parents how interactive media, technology, and developmentally appropriate apps can be beneficial to young children. By the end of the workshop, she hopes each child will have created their own digital story. The iPads will also be available to check out and use within the branch.

Meinhardt said other parent workshops on how to use technology in ways that benefit children will also be offered. She hopes to explore digital storytelling, recording the children’s voices and letting them draw on the iPads.

Meinhardt expects her first workshop to take place in January.

Ongoing Programming

The library’s new branch manager, Carlos Chavez, says he envisions the library serving as a network, bringing together different people to provide services to the community. “I was amazed at everything that was going on already,” he says. “There was a strong foundation already here.”

The library currently offers three chess programs, including a new one called One-on-One Chess that teaches chess to young people in half-hour slots on Saturday afternoons. To recognize all of the young chess talent on the Island, Chavez says the library will hold a chess tournament on February 22, divided into three different age groups.

One Thursday a month, the Roosevelt Island Historical Society puts on a lecture. The next one, The FDNY on Blackwell’s and Welfare Islands, is scheduled for January 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Mondays are technology nights starting at 6:00 p.m.; every Monday a different computer topic or skill is on the calendar, including Google, YouTube, Freegal, and Mango.

Chavez says he has big plans in the works for new programming as well, including an oral history of the Island, to be maintained and organized by him and his staff. This is a project that is being undertaken at many NYPL branches, including the Seward Park branch, where Chavez spent a few years ( As part of the project, he plans to conduct interviews of longtime and new Islanders, and to document our history for residents and researchers.

He also expects to start a series of 12-week courses on computer coding and Microsoft Office. Participants would earn a certificate at the end of the semester.

Still Waiting

And about that beautiful new library that’s supposed to be built at 504 Main Street – a plan that has been in the works for three years already? Chavez says it will house a large collection of books, a separate community room, and a children’s area, but that construction isn’t supposed to start until September of 2018, for an early 2020 opening date.

That means the library will need to survive two more summers in their current space, which had to be closed several times over the past summer due to a malfunctioning air conditioner. Chavez says the problem is being addressed.

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