Spotlighting Rockland County Libraries in honor of National Library Week: Jessica Bowen Ossa on expanding one’s horizons

The roaring 20s.

It’s an exciting time in one’s life, a time of uncertainty and a time of exploring.

“When I was at that time in my early 20s and trying to pick a career path, I remember thinking I was trying to figure out something that contributes to society in some way,” said Jessica Bowen Ossa, the director of Nanuet Public Library.

With her bachelor’s degree in English and minor in theater from Drew University, the possibilities were endless and she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do.

She tried to get her foot in the publishing industry, and briefly worked as a closed captioner for television broadcasts before deciding to go to library school.

“I felt like the library was a better fit for me just because it’s a little bit of everything and that’s very much me, like, you know, having eclectic interests and I have a million different hobbies,” Bowen Ossa said.

She wanted a career that she can look back on decades later and be rest assured that she made a positive difference in the community.

“I’ve heard people say that libraries are like the ‘fun version’ of education,” she said.

In school, people are told what to read and what projects to work on, whereas the library was a haven where one is free to explore and find what inspires them.

Nanuet Public Library directly neighbors both Nanuet Senior High and A. MacArthur Barr Middle school, allowing students to flock from class to the library to purse their interests in a less structured environment.

“It’s great because the kids have easy access to us and can come over after school for our programs and, you know, I think we have an easier time getting teenagers in here than other libraries that are more kind of cut off from the community that’s not walkable,” she said.

What Bowen Ossa is most excited for patrons in high school to utilize is the library’s new musical instrument loan collection.

Expected to be launched by their adult services department on May 16, Nanuet Public Library patrons who are 14 and up will be able to check out an instrument with their library card if they find that music sparks their interest.

“It’s a really good way of utilizing the local library resources to try out a new hobby without further financial investment,”she said.

To prepare for this collection, Rockland Music Center supplied the library and helped Bob Boyle, the head of adult services, decide which were the best ones to select.

The team worked with the local music business in deciding which instruments are recommended for beginners and for support in repairing them in case they get damaged as they’re loaned out.

One resource that is enjoyed by all is “Book A Librarian,” where patrons can book a 30-minute session if they need any kind of assistance ranging from résumé building to tech help.

“We’re always trying to get the word out about how much digital content there is,” she said.

Not only does the library offer LinkedIn Learning and language learning assistance, but patrons can also stream movies with their library card.

Bowen Ossa encourages everyone to expand their horizons by utilizing all of the resources, which can be found with just a few clicks on their website.

To support Nanuet Public Library during National Library Week, patrons can grab a bite at the Five Guys Nanuet location on April 26 where The Friends of Nanuet Public Library are holding a fundraiser in collaboration.

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