Jyna Scheeren and Leironica Hawkins at Grand Central Library.Leironica Hawkins discovered the Grand Central Library by chance last year when she was living in a homeless shelter.
Now the neighborhood library has helped her rediscover herself and her voice by providing her with refuge, inspiration, and free computer access.
Hawkins, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as an adult, spent countless hours at the branch researching and creating a graphic novel about living with the condition. With the help of Managing Librarian Jyna Scheeren, Hawkins then mounted an exhibition of her art at the library last fall, which attracted international attention.
“The Library gave me the chance and the confidence to pursue my dreams,” says Hawkins, who has aspired to be a working artist since she was a child. “I couldn’t have gotten any of it done without the Library.”
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As a result of the exhibition, Hawkins found a literary agent and is now working to expand and publish her book. She also found a small apartment with the help of an advocacy group. “Now I have a purpose and place to live thanks to the Library,” says Hawkins.
Scheeren says Hawkins’ experience underscores the way libraries transform lives through access to information. “To see all this happen to one patron shows so clearly the library’s potential for helping people,” says Scheeren.
Please join Leironica Hawkins and other Library users who depend on NYPL’s services in speaking out against these cuts. If they are not reversed, up to 12 neighborhood libraries could close and the remaining branches could be open just four days a week. It takes just a few clicks to send a letter to your elected officials urging them to restore funding.