Spotlighting Rockland County Libraries in honor of National Library Week: Nyack Library’s Teen Services Specialist on community and forming lifelong connections

It’s a beautiful Spring day and you and your friends decide to take a stroll down Nyack.

After grabbing a bite at your favorite local café, you all head to Nyack Library.

To some, it’s just a library, but you’re always awestruck by the building’s green foliage when you walk up the steps because to you it’s like a building straight out of a storybook.

You head to the teen room where you are greeted by Morgan Strand, the teen services specialist.

Many teens like yourself open up to Strand, but what is her story?

“We just try to form connections in the teen room, lifelong connections,” she said.

Strand always knew that she wanted to work with children in some capacity and she started off as a special education teacher at Fred S. Keller School while working at Nyack Library part time as a computer resource center information specialist.

“I just loved it so much that I needed to do this full time forever,” she said.

She’s worked there for 15 years, and what she loves most is connecting with the community.

In April, the most popular service that patrons flock to is AARP-Tax Aide appointments, which became fully booked at their location.

The Nyack Library also posts flyers throughout their location that lists food programs by the days of the week where people can get free meals.

According to Feeding America, in 2020, the food insecurity rate among children in Rockland County was 15.8%.

Rockland County libraries can also connect non-English speaking patrons to tutors who can help them learn.

One of many non-profits that the Nyack Library partners with is Literacy Solutions.

According to the New York State Department of Education, the number of students enrolled as English Language Learners in Rockland County public schools totaled 6,483 in the 2020-2021 school year.

Strand is also anticipating the collaboration between Nyack Library and a sustainability non-profit that connects food with healthy practices.

“It’s called Grow Black Hudson and it’s a non-profit talking all about gardening, using food as medicine and healing with your own food,” she said.

Nkoula Badila, the founder, is scheduled to speak more about it on May 25 at 7 p.m. at the community meeting room.

One event that’s popular among tweens, grades 6 to 8, in particular is Ani-Makes, where they get to watch an anime film and eat snacks while doing a craft in relation to the movie.

The next screening, which takes place on May 25 at 4 p.m., is “Dragon Ball Super: Broly.”

It’s no surprise that this is a favorite being that the manga market has skyrocketed in the past few years.

There are also tween craft afternoons on Fridays once a month and Mondays for those in grades 9 to 12.

Past crafts included water-coloring, acrylic paint on rocks and tie dye, with each monthly craft celebrating a different theme.

In addition to overseeing those programs, Strand is also in charge of book ordering, keeping an eye out for titles that are in high demand while working closely with school librarians.

“I like to make sure that we have books that they may not be able to have at their school libraries or ones that have been banned at the school libraries,” she said.

“We want to make sure that all the school materials that the teens want are available here.”

The Nyack Library received Facebook posts from parents who requested that they not have certain titles, including Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, which was banned by Dutchess County’s John Jay High and was also one of nine challenged books in the libraries of Westchester’s Yorktown High School and Mildred E. Strang Middle School.

“Luckily, our administrative staff always backs us and supports our decisions in what we have in our library,” she said. “The teen room is just a wonderful place and everyone is welcome here.”

Strand encourages teens to utilize the teen room as a resource for assistance throughout their unforgettable exciting years for applying to college, scholarships and jobs.

Those interested in learning more about programs can inquire by contacting The Nyack Library’s teen room at (845)358-3370 extension 236.

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