Barrier-Free Library, Interviews
My Library: Janielle Fermaint
I first met Janielle Fermaint a few weeks ago at a meeting in the Mid-Manhattan Library. She seemed like a person with lots of library experiences to share so I asked if we could meet for an interview. She agreed, and we spoke in the Battery Park City Library. Janielle is pictured to the left, on the appealing second floor of the branch which opened in 2010 as Manhattan's first library with green LEED certification.
How do you use the library?
For business and pleasure. I like to go to programs in the Battery Park City Library. Then I write reviews of them on the branch's Facebook page. I also use the computers there for e-mail.
Which libraries do you use?
I love the main library — the one with the lions. I have also been to the Mid-Manhattan Library, but the Battery Park City Library is the most convenient one for me — plus they have great programs. I used to live in Brooklyn and went to the Cadman Plaza library there.
What do you like most about the library, and what would you most like to see improved?
The Battery Park City Library has an automatic door-opener; without that, it's very hard for me to get into a building. I would like every library to have an automatic door-opening switch. I'd also like to see more programs in the libraries for people — both adults and children — with special needs. Perhaps music and art programs, and computer classes. Also, each library needs tables, including tables with computers on them, that are high enough so people using wheelchairs can fit under them. The armrests of my wheelchair are a little higher than most, and can only fit under tables that are a minimum of 30" high; sometimes there is no table high enough for me to sit under.
What are some of your favorite library programs?
I can only get to programs during the week, and before 4 p.m., so I mostly attend toddler and preschool programs, and review them on Facebook. Battery Park City library offers a monthly program, "Bilingual Birdies," which is a fun session of music and language — for parents to bring their children (newborn to 5 years) to, to hear and practice Mandarin Chinese! There are story time programs every day; usually, the librarian, Anne, reads stories. The kids love her; she has some songs she does each time like: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear," "Sticky Sticky Bubblegum," and "The Wheels on the Bus." Other staff read books to the kids and they do a great job too. I especially like singer/songwriter, Lou Gallo, who comes to perform quite a bit. When he plays guitar, everything stops — in a good way: everyone is quiet so they don't miss anything!
What else do you like to do when you're not in the library?
On the weekends I spend time with my family, especially my little cousins who are two and three years old! I like to travel and have been to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Disney World. On television, I enjoy watching tennis and cooking shows. I like to draw as well, and am currently working on a project for an organization I am involved with — Job Path NYC. I'm creating an Emotional Rainbow and entering it into a contest — if it wins it will decorate their new office space!
Anything you'd like to add?
I like to hear stories, but would like to hear ones for adults. If the libraries read stories aloud, for adults — including adults with disabilities — before 4 p.m. I could go.
I later remembered — and told Janielle — that the Mid-Manhattan Library hosts reading aloud sessions targeting adults at lunchtime: Mixed Bag: Story Time for Grown-Ups. The stories are carefully chosen, brilliantly executed, and a delight to hear. After all, who doesn't like being read to?!