Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2017

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Page 18 of 35 n Hudson Valley Parent 19 well as computer gaming and even hosts Minecraft sessions on its own closed servers. Socially speaking Teens aren't the only ones view- ing libraries as social opportunities. Some kids are literally making their first friends there. "People are always surprised when they see parents signing up for our early literacy programs whose kids are six-weeks-old," says Kochik. "But there are benefits to that, even if it's just social benefits and the benefit of hearing language around you." It also gives new parents a chance to make friends with other new parents, which explains why other very-early literacy programs remain some of the most popular library programs offered. "One of the loneliest experiences can be when you're a new parent in a vast rural area where you don't know any other parents," says Potter about the Phoenicia Library's "Together Tuesdays" programs for babies through preschoolers. "This is a way for [parents] to come together and be with their kids. I've seen so many friendships form here that have become lasting and wonderful." "We just had somebody this morning who has only lived here for a week," Figlia says about the Howland Library's Baby and Me program. "And she's already made new friends." As libraries continue to return to their roots, kids and young parents will continue learning skills and developing relationships that they can't anywhere else. Far from being a relic of the past, libraries are cementing their place as a corner- stone for all free, healthy societies. "We don't really have any other place in Phoenicia for people to gather for free, that's not a business or a religion," says Potter. "There must be a need for it because in just the past year our attendance has gone up 180%. People are just craving this." Brian PJ Cronin is a freelance writer whose work appears throughout the Hudson Valley. Teens from Beacon take part in Howland Public Library's FRAME Video Making Workshop, where they learn how to produce their own short films. Photo provided at the core of our mission...patrons also learn through experience and events, and that's just valuable," says Liz Potter, director of the Phoenicia Library. "You can't check it out, its knowledge that you have to actually be in the building to get. It's really in line with our mission, which is to provide education, enlightenment, and education throughout life." Located in one of the most famous fly-fishing areas in the world, the Phoenicia Library has long had a "fishing room" where patrons could not only check out books about fishing, but rods and other equipment as well. The fishing room still gets a lot of use, but kids in the Phoenicia library today are also doing a lot of hands-on learning with another tool: Robotics. Thanks to a generous donation of equipment, the library hosts a robotics club for teens and 'tweens. "That club is probably what I'm most proud of because through play you get the opportunity to teach coding and engineering," says Potter. "These programs have to be fun, ultimately. But it's something where kids are learning skills that will be helpful for them in the future economy." Making connections Technology is also what helped to draw teens into the Newburgh Free Library, something that Children's Head of Youth Services, Lisa Kochik, says was encouraged by increasing the number of computers available for kids and improved wireless. When the library hosted a program during National Computer Science and Engineering Week called "Hour of Code," which intro- duces kids from age 5 through high school to computer programming, Kochik noticed more kids than ever hanging out to take part in it. "We explained to them that this was something they could do as a job," she says. "So as a result of that, kids were really into it." The New- burgh Free Library now runs regular computer programming classes as

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