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7. Patchogue-Medford Library

Press Contact: Dina McNeece Chrils, 631-654-4700 ext. 300

Web Site:

Dina McNeece Chrils, Director; Zheni Velasquez, Community Member; and Mrs. Obama.
Pictured: Dina McNeece Chrils, Director; Zheni Velasquez, Community Member; and Mrs. Obama. Click image to access high-resolution version.

Throughout years of change and growth, the Patchogue-Medford Library has remained focused on its ultimate goal for all Patchogue and Medford citizens: literacy. Basic literacy, information literacy, and life skills literacy drive the programming at the library, which got its start in the late 1880s with just 635 books in the side room of a shoe store.

With a population that is 24 percent Hispanic, the library brings quality programming to both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities, combining the two groups for learning experiences whenever possible. For children, bilingual story times may be their first experience hearing a language other than the one spoken at home.

The library also donates books in English and Spanish, bilingual literacy kits, and parenting materials to local Head Start and Early Head Start centers. Teens meet at the library’s Language Café to practice conversational Spanish, with English-speaking teens learning from their Spanish-speaking peers.
Patchogue-Medford Library is poised to play an important role in the lives of its citizens for another hundred years.

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop (NY-01) "The Patchogue-Medford Library is a lynchpin of the area's revitalization and I applaud them for earning this award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The National Medal for Museum and Library Service recognizes institutions that make exceptional contributions to their communities, and I can think of no institution more deserving."

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) "I congratulate the Patchogue-Medford Library on this well-deserved recognition. Quality programs at the Patchogue-Medford Library help equip our youth with important language skills. I am proud to support efforts dedicated to improving literacy and providing our children with opportunities to grow and prosper."

Community Member Zheni Velasquez
Dreams began at the library

Zheni Velasquez was born in Gualaceo, Ecuador, immigrated to the United States in 1991, and settled in Patchogue where her dreams began with her first visit to the Patchogue-Medford Library. She initially attended local schools to learn English, but she could not afford to buy a bilingual dictionary. She was relieved to find the library’s Spanish section and was proud to get her first library card. From there, she took computer classes, found a tutor, and eventually attended the library’s citizenship preparation classes. In 2004, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Zheni currently works as a Spanish language teacher’s aide at Family Service League and Ducky Pond School. She hopes to advance her learning and gives all credit to the library for helping her family grow positively through education, recreation, involvement, and, most important, information.

Her dreams of becoming proficient in English, working as a professional in the United States, and establishing roots in the community of Patchogue all came true, starting at the library!