Meet the new directors at the heart of Ruth Keeler Memorial Library

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Photo by Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

The new year brings new leadership at the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library as Cathleen Sulli and Jennifer Gileno take on new roles as Director and Assistant Director. Sulli was promoted to Director after her successful role as Assistant Director under the leadership of Carolyn Reznik, who retired last fall. Gileno joined as Assistant Director, bringing a boundless source of enthusiasm for the future of the library. Reflecting each other's goals and passion, the pair spoke collaboratively about many new initiatives on the horizon and their desire to create a library culture that promotes connectivity and being an ever-evolving, supportive resource for all ages.

Sulli has been working in the library sciences field for over 30 years building on a love that started early. As a child, she enjoyed “playing library” by pretending to check out her books. Sulli then volunteered as a high school page at her local library before working for the Brooklyn Library System. A favored role was in acquisitions with the Nassau Library System where she selected which books would be offered. She has been a longtime employee at Ruth Keeler Memorial Library and her varied experience helps her to recognize all the facets that create a vibrant library program.

Director Cathleen Sulli welcomes patrons with a smile. Photo by Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

“Jennifer brought her young voice to us,” boasts Sulli, who is pleased to have the addition of Gileno’s ideas to the team. When Gileno moved into town in 2019, she became interested in becoming a part of the library recognizing its ability to be a powerful resource for the community. An avid reader, Gileno enjoys using books as a way to educate and connect with her children. After joining the Board of Trustees, she appreciated the highly educated and kind staff who taught her what it meant to be a part of a library. “I was blessed to be part of a community that valued what a library brings,” recalls Gileno. She began taking on more roles as she further developed relationships with the staff and library community.

“What makes us different [from other libraries],” says Gileno, “is that we are family-oriented.” Volunteers from high schoolers to seniors, hands-on Trustees, staff, and even staff’s family members are “vested in the positive outcome for the library” and provide their resources in a way that inspires, connects, and supports patrons through all stages of learning and life.

Assistant Director Jennifer Gileno enjoys sharing her love of reading with others. Photo by Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

One of the first initiatives the directors will implement is a series of workshops and classes focused around the interests of the North Salem community. These programs are open to people of all ages and skill levels, and are designed to provide both education and entertainment.

               What’s Happening At Ruth Keeler Memorial Library:

Children’s Programming:

In addition to their regular Mother Goose story time, family story time, and Fun with Puppets, the library has introduced:

  • Music and Movement, Thursdays at 11:30 am
  • Lego Club, Wednesdays at 4 pm
  • Storytime and Crafts, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 pm

What Sulli enjoys about children’s programming: “It’s a place to bond and meet other families in the community.”

What Gileno enjoys about children’s programming: “It’s a chance to stay and engage, learn and relax together.”

Young Adult Programming:

The department welcomed Lauren Gray as the new Library Development Specialist for YA Services and is excited to expand the program under her leadership.

  • Design Your Own Graphic Novel, Saturdays in February 11 am-12 pm

Run by North Salem high school freshman Finn Northshield, this program targets teens who want to learn how to write and animate graphic novels.

  • Workshop: Earring Workshop with Joan Lloyd, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm

At this program for ages 11 through adult, participants will create beaded earrings. For every pair made, a second pair is made to donate to a shelter for battered women.

What Sulli enjoys about YA Programming: “It’s a good resource for high schoolers to volunteer, and earn hours for Gold Award or Eagle Scout projects. We love when they come back to visit once they start college because it shows the library was a happy place for them.”

What Gileno enjoys about YA Programming: “We are here to provide a scaffold of support that flows in both directions.”

Adult Programming:

“North Salem really is a cultural center and we want the library to reflect that,” states Sulli about the variety of recurring programs at the library.

  • Social Knitting, Mondays at 11 am on Zoom
  • Mahjong, Monday afternoons
  • Writer’s Group, 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 11am
  • Bagels and Books, First Thursday of every month at 10:30 am
  • History Book Club, Second Tuesday of every month at 7 pm
  • Meditation, Second Monday of every month at 12 pm
  • Conversation with Gardeners, Second Saturday of every month at 10 am

Additionally, topical and seasonal programs include:

  • Learn to Sell on eBay, Tuesday, Jan 17th at 7 pm on Zoom
  • Author Talk: The Personal Librarian by Victoria Christopher Murray Thursday, Feb. 2nd at 7 pm on Zoom
  • Valentine Concert with Emily Bindiger and Robbie Kondor, Sunday Feb. 5th at 4 pm
  • Workshop: Earring Workshop with Joan Lloyd, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm
  • The World of St. Patrick with Michael Norris, Tuesday, March 7th at 7:30pm on Zoom
  • Gallery art wall contributions that spotlight local artists, Monthly in the Lobby
"Angel of the Morning" by artist Chrissanth Greene-Gross will be raffled off at the end of the month to benefit future programs. Photo credit: Chrissanth Greene-Gross

A donated glass print from the plein air collection of local artist Chrissanth Greene-Gross will be raffled off at the end of the month. Tickets are $10 for one ticket/$20 for three and can be purchased at the library. All proceeds go toward the Friends of the Library.

What Sulli enjoys about adult programming: “Long-term connections and friendships come from these groups.”

What Gileno enjoys about adult programming: “Our plant sale in May is a great example of how the library brings the community together when neighbors share and sell their plantings to benefit future programs.”

The amount of programs and active engagement at Ruth Keeler Memorial Library has been recognized by the Westchester Library System. Being a small library doesn’t mean having a small reach. Zoom programming, championed by Sulli during the pandemic, expanded access and availability to patrons. Additional outreach includes visits to the local Senior Center to educate on resources like Libby and Hoopla, which provide access to ebooks and audiobooks as well as setting up Kanopy on devices that allow for media streaming. Librarians are available at all times to offer support to all ages about how to access these platforms.

Gileno is particularly proud of the recent addition of the educational resources and games corner sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The center provides access to tools that enrich academic learning for parents, tutors, and homeschoolers. These items are not part of library circulation and can be borrowed on the honor system.

Within their new roles, Sulli and Gileno say they are committed to making the library the heart of activity for the town and a continual resource for all North Salem residents. They encourage everyone to come and check out what the library has to offer, including the launch of a new website at the beginning of February.

The library is located at 276 Titicus Rd. North Salem, NY 10560 and can be followed on social media for the latest information:

Instagram: RuthKeelerMemorial_Library

Facebook: Keeler Library

Twitter: @KeelerLibrary

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