African Roots Library reopens in Poughkeepsie


Empty shelves line the walls of a tangerine-colored room in Poughkeepsie. Stools with purple cushions are strewn everywhere, waiting for a permanent home.

A team of people discuss the African art they have collected and plan to exhibit. All came together to put the finishing touches on the new Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library.

“You learn to read and you learn by reading,” said Stacey Bottoms, a member of the Library Action Committee who oversaw the mixing of the African Roots Library collection with the additions. “Bringing our kids here and having this access to books and computers, and seeing a representation of themselves in those books, it just boosts their confidence even more.”

What do you want to know

  • The new Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library will showcase historic African art and history, while depicting people of color in new additions
  • Programming and books will be adapted to cater for early literacy
  • The library will be supplemented with other materials provided by the Poughkeepsie Library District

The doors will open in a few months, welcoming children and adults alike to the north side of Poughkeepsie in the bright space that overlooks the city streets.

Although it is only a 15 minute walk from the Adriance Memorial Library at the Family Partnership Center, the reopening of the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library at this location was strategic. It provides access to resources on the north side of Poughkeepsie without having to cross the city’s main thoroughfares.

“There are a lot of children who come to this building [Family Partnerships Center] for a variety of services. Having a library at your fingertips is also fabulous,” said Brian Doyle, executive director of family services at the Family Partnership Center.

“It’s a good book,” Bottoms said, picking up a book from the African Roots collection. “There’s a lot of history here, a lot of art, a lot of Africa.”

She rolled out the book, let it breathe, and pointed out some of her favorite pieces.

“It’s nice to have, but we need to have updated books, kid-friendly books. That way we have up-to-date information for our kids,” Bottoms said.

That’s where Beth Vredenburg, Branch Services Manager for the Poughkeepsie Library District, and her team came in. The Adriance Memorial Library Group processed and prepared the books for the shelves of the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library.

“Because we have the Early Literacy Grant for the library, we want to make sure that’s reflected in the shelves at all times,” Vredenburg said.

She is responsible for filling the shelves with new and old books and ordering 2,000 new ones to complete the old collections.

According to Tom Lawrence, library manager for the Poughkeepsie Public Library District, the organization has received an early literacy grant that it plans to use, even beyond the books it will purchase.

“We will have a program room…which will allow us to provide support to parents. Being able to educate parents in the community about the importance of literacy and how to make literacy an important activity in the family without it looking like…”we make you do literacy in right now,” Lawrence said.

Making learning interactive will be a main approach.

“All the energies, whether it’s reading the African Roots collection, the public library collection, or participating in the programming that we’ll be doing here…it’s all geared towards getting kids ready for kindergarten,” Lawrence said. .

The emotional, social and intellectual preparation of the children will be reflected in their space.

“For this particular branch, I was making sure we covered the full range of all genders, as well as all age groups,” Vredenburg said.

His team commissioned and processed the new additions to the library, emphasizing that no one’s interest is left behind as they walk through the doors of the revitalized space.

“Once we’ve made the initial arrangement, we’ll figure out what we need from there,” she said.


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