Children's Psychiatric Center and UB Team Up for Children's Library

Release Date: December 11, 2009 This content is archived.


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David Jones of the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center looks through books in a patient library that volunteers from UB helped establish in the facility.

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 organized libraries.

"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.

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