TCPL prepares for upcoming Community Read


Tompkins County is “the dream community for librarians,” according to Teresa Vadakin, and she should know.

Head of Information and Learning Services at the Tompkins County Public Library, Teresa was a librarian for three years in Massachusetts and six years in Brooklyn before coming here. In Ithaca for the past six years, she is in awe of the community’s participation in amazing programming that our libraries offer in this county.

Teresa offers us all a heads-up about programming for adults now in place or unfolding soon:

“Right now, we have five book clubs for adults. (Teens and kids have their own),” she said. “Four times a year, book club participants read and talk about the book they selected. There is a 4 Seasons Fiction Club, a Panel by Panel Graphic Novel Club, a Truth Be Told Non-Fiction Club and a Senior Book Club. There is also a Next Chapter Book Club, a partnership with Challenge Workplace Solutions where participants meet weekly and read a book.”

This month, Teresa will join her colleagues to unveil this year’s Community Read selection:

“The Community Read is the center of an event-filled month in October when community members all read the same book and then discuss it,” she said. “Community Read coordinators Tom Burns and Joyce Wheatley are in the midst of planning all kinds of programs around the selected book’s theme, including writing workshops, music, lectures, movies and food.”

Once the title is unveiled this month, all interested folks can borrow a copy, join a discussion group and get ready for the October events. You may see people of all ages reading the same book—in campus dorms, in the jail, in trailers and apartments, in senior residences and in parks. Library cards are free! So, watch for this year’s book and join in any way that you like.

Everyone needs one-on-one technology help, or else they know someone else desperate to figure out some electronic device. Digital Librarian Tom Fredette is the person we need.

People turn to him to learn how to create one’s own email account, get a new cell phone set up and learn computer basics. Tom has been known to help people fill out employment applications and navigate the internet. A digital librarian is a very valuable person to know.

In partnership with Foodnet, a book club is forming at Titus Towers, and quite a few senior residences also host digital literacy programs offered by TCPL. So many new adventures are possible when we know our way around a computer, so TCPL librarians are stepping out to bring services to neighbors who can’t easily get to the library.

Going digital means we can also access the Digital Lab. The classroom environment can seat up to 16 patrons and includes two large-screen monitors, dry erase whiteboards, a full color copier/printer and audio-visual equipment suitable for meeting video conferencing needs.

Pretty soon, we hope to meet Meghan Molloy, the local history librarian who will offer one-on-one assistance to those community members who want to access the Memory Lab. In the meantime, do you know anyone with precious slides, cherished family photos and documents stored in a box? Meghan will show others how to digitize these with the TCPL’s elite scanner. Once scanned, people can share these treasures with family and friends.

“The Memory Lab is a place where community members can digitize their past,” Teresa said. “The equipment will provide local history enthusiasts and family historians alike an opportunity to convert a wide variety of film, audio and video into digital content and preserve more of our local history for the future.”

These days, some people also drop by the library during ESL Talk Time to do just that. Facilitated by Outreach Librarian Sophia McKissick on Wednesdays at 3:45 p.m., community members who are learning English can come practice their language skills at this conversation class.

Whether we are welcoming new neighbors from other countries or looking to improve our English skills, it’s great that our library is the hub for language learners.

Have a loved one in jail? Spending time with a book can be transformative, and TCPL recently received a Finger Lakes Library System Mini Outreach Grant to help build book collections, and our outreach librarians will provide literacy sessions at the Tompkins County Jail.

Teresa ends our chat like this:

“From your home, you can also download audio books and magazines, eBooks and stream movies and music,” she said. “You can take advantage of Creativebug, online video arts and crafts workshops or visit Cady Fontana and Josh Burns in the Makerspace, equipped with a laser cutter, 3-D printers, sewing machines and more to create new projects or finish old ones. … I’ve been a librarian for 15 years, and I love it. We are breaking down as many barriers as we can so that everyone can enjoy what our Library has to offer.”

Those interested in learning more are encouraged to contact Teresa at


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