BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Department of Library and Informational
Studies in the University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education
has joined forces with staff volunteers from the Western New York
Children's Psychiatric Center to open a new patient library at the
hospital's West Seneca facility.
The new library, aided by a $5,000 grant from the Laura Bush
Foundation, was created after staff volunteers from the center saw
an urgent need for the students at the center to have a resource
similar to the one they are familiar with in their school.
The library is in a facility that provides high-quality
comprehensive behavioral health care services to seriously
emotionally disturbed children and adolescents from the eight
counties of Western New York. In addition to clinical services, the
Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center provides an
educational program consistent with New York State Education
Department regulations. Most of the children in the facility are
treated for a relatively short time, and onsite teachers keep each
child up-to-date with what is going on in his or her school.
Valerie Nesset, assistant professor in UB's library and
information studies program, supervised a student intern who, along
with WNYCPC staff volunteers, helped to create the library. She
said her recent experiences with the Center reinforced her
commitment to providing children with up-to-date and thoughtfully
"Seeing this welcoming space, and meeting the dedicated
volunteers who donated so much of their time and talents to make
this library a reality, reinforced in my mind the importance of
libraries and the roles they can play," says Nesset.
"Emotionally disturbed children are just one of the groups who
are all too often marginalized by society, and seeing what the
Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center staff and our
student intern were able to accomplish renewed the passion in me to
see these children, and others like them, benefit from a library
and the services it can provide.
"I am adamant about helping this library to succeed."
Plans for the library received a boost when volunteers secured
the $5,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation. The project took
another step forward when Jill Tarabula, volunteer librarian
liaison and an alumna of UB's master of library science program,
volunteered to provide the center's library committee with the
technical know-how needed to get a library up and running. Tarabula
recognized that it would be crucial to organize the library so that
it would be like those the children would use when they returned to
their own schools and communities.
With Tarabula's guidance, Jessica Casamassa, an intern from UB's
master of library science program, selected and organized
appropriate books for children with diverse backgrounds and needs.
She also set up book clubs and programs that would introduce the
children to the joy of reading. Positive effects were immediately
observed, suggesting that the library may benefit both the
facility's educational mission, and also support each child's
individual recovery. "Learning to use and appreciate the resources
of a library are skills for a lifetime," says Kathe Hayes, facility
director for WNYCPC. "Through the collaboration with UB we have the
resources to satisfy a wide variety of interests."
UB's Nesset is looking into the possibilities of conducting
research at the center to determine what effect the library and its
services has on the children, staff and families. The LIS student
chapter of the American Library Association (ALA) has held a series
of fundraising events in support of the library.
"Every individual who participated in the library's creation and
operation remains passionate about the project," says Nesset. "The
tireless volunteer work of the children's psychiatric center staff
coupled with a commitment by the UB's master of library studies
program's students and faculty, will help to ensure that this
little library will be around to change lives in ways we might
never have imagined."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.