Friends of the Bronxville Library Quiet but Important Part of Bronxville Public Library

The Friends of the Bronxville Library: 

back row (l-r) — Dina Grant, Irena Choi Stern, Jody Kessel, 

Lauren Toal (President), Carolyn Mattson (Vice President), 

Rekha Waggoner, Zahbia Brainch (Treasurer); 

seated (l-r) — Grace Gilmer (Vice President), Laura Kinon (Secretary), Charlotte Sullivan, Susan Gordon and Amy Brown.

By Stephen E. Lipken


“The Friends of the Bronxville Public Library (FOBPL) are a quiet but important part of the Bronxville Public Library, trying to help meet their needs,” FOBPL President Lauren Toal observed.


In 1875 residents banded together to create a simple reading room. The Library building at the corner of Pondfield Road and Midland Avenue opened in 1922. Today, the Bronxville Public Library has grown into an extraordinary resource, in part because of the efforts of its Friends.


FOPBL is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1986 and dedicated to supporting the Library through fundraising and community outreach.  FOBPL’s mission is to focus public attention on the Library’s resources, services, facilities and needs, sponsor special projects and secure materials that are beyond the reach of the regular Library budget.


The FOBPL Board meets at 11am on the second Tuesday of the month (except July and August) to review with the Director the Library’s status, plan fundraising events and the library’s future. FOBPL works closely with the Library Trustees and is advised by a Trustee. 


Bronxville Public Library Director Greg Wirsyla noted that an annual appeal letter is sent out to residents inviting donations. On the FOBPL website, potential contributors can click on  Wirsyla also mentioned that J. Mclaughlin donated 15% of their proceeds to FOBPL in December of 2021.


Wirsyla cited a special award from the Library Journal’s “America’s Star Library” rankings for 2020, based on selected output measures such as per capita circulation, e-circulation, wi-fi sessions, visits and program attendance. The award is granted to the top 4.7% of qualified public libraries.  BPL was the only one in Westchester to receive the award. 


The Young Adult Room originally opened on September 9, 2001 with a generous gift from Ruth Doyle.  As the study habits of students changed over the years, the room was underutilized, partly because the space became dark and dated.  In late 2019, the then-Children’s Librarian identified an update of the Young Adult Room as a priority, especially since students in wheelchairs found it challenging to move about the room due to the existing furniture and layout.  


A newly refurbished Young Adult Room opened to the public in November 2021, twenty years after the grand reopening of the Bronxville Public Library that was financed, primarily by the sale of a Childe Hassam painting.  The new space was designed by Sarah Underhill and financed by FOBPL, who also funded the Yeager Room Sound System.


Although the Library closed mid-March to mid-May 2020 due to the Pandemic they remained opened after that, featuring Zoom programs and curbside book pickup. 


The FOBPL funds all of the adult and young adult programming organized by librarians, including special events and performances such as author appearances by Pulitzer Prize winner William J. Broad; Norb Vonnegut; Andrea Montalbano; Sam Roberts; Min Jin Lee and Fiona Davis; musical performances; film series and readings by local poets.


FOBPL underwrites all of the Bronxville Public Library’s children’s programming, including the Summer Reading Program, and Concert Series, Dawny Drew and her Puppet Friends, ongoing crafts, contests and enrichment programs.


Free access to Consumer is made possible through FOBPL who also purchased the New York Times Historical database in 2019 for use by Library patrons, plus access to  Friends also sponsors the Museum Pass Program, providing complimentary admission for two adults and children (17 and under), available to BPL cardholders and FOBPL donors. 


Visit for the latest programs and details.