Onondaga Free Library, Syracuse, New York – promoting literacy and well being of the community

Written by Maggie Gall-Maynard – Youth Services Librarian

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Onondaga Free Library is a public library that sits on Onondaga Hill in the Southwest side of Syracuse, NY. It covers a large mass of land which includes three school districts. Onondaga Community College is very close. The library sits between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Byrne Dairy, so fresh coffee and treats are always close! The library allows patrons to have food and drink everywhere in the library except at the computers. A small graveyard sits nearby which holds the remains of soldiers from the War of 1812.

The library is split into two different floors. The first floor has a circulation desk, a Friends of the Library Corner, Adult DVDs, CDs, a Library of Things special collection, County and State Park passes, the community room (including a full-use kitchen) and the beautiful children’s area.

The Library of Things collection includes the following that patrons can check out: A fitbit, a GoPro camera, Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home Mini, Cromecast, a Kindle and more! The county and state park passes gets patrons into any state park in NY, plus local places like the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and the Beaver Lake Nature Center.

The children’s area is a gem! Everywhere you look there is something fun hiding among their amazing collection of books. The nonfiction area has a lego wall, a STEAM cabinet, animal toys, and more. The fiction area has computers for kids only, a board game cabinet, Playaway Launchpads, and fun seating. As you continue down the hallway of the first floor, it opens up the a beautiful children’s picture book area with a mural of animals reading and playing. Bigfoot is even hiding in there! Puzzles, trucks, blocks, baby dolls and more are everywhere you turn. The picture books are face-out which is fantastic for letting kids be self-reliant in picking out what interests them the most. Picture books are shelves by authors last name and by categories like “Manners” and “Construction.” There is a parent PC in the children’s area and 5 children’s AWE computers which have pre-loaded learning games on them. There is also a parenting section in the children’s area which focuses on raising babies and toddlers. As you continue to walk back, you find the story time room. It has a magnet board that has different games that are rotated. A favorite is where kids move piping and build a maze that they can send balls through. There is a puppet theater and a dress-up wardrobe complete with accessories and a mirror. There are more games hiding back here too.

The community room is also on the first floor. The space is huge! It also has a full-use kitchen complete with fridge, freezer, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, and microwave! The community room is available for programs that are open to the public and are for non-profit purposes. The library also hosts programs here and even streams movies for the public!

There is both elevator and stair access to upstairs. The first place you see upstairs is the art gallery space. Community members can hang their work for a month and sell their work here. Sometimes they even feature children’s art from the local community! Next, you come to the fireplace. The area is cozy and inviting, especially on snowy days. There is a coupon exchange near the fireplace. If you continue straight, you come to the large print area. There is a puzzle hiding here for patrons to work on. There is also a senior computer. When you turn, you see magazines, new books, vending machines, and a reference desk. The teen area is on your right and features computers, games, books, and graphic novels.

The computers look out onto the hidden garden which is really nice in the Spring and Summertime. Across from the teen area is the adults computers and audiobooks. Continuing on is adult books separated by nonfiction categories, general fiction, westerns, romance, science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, and classics. Three meeting rooms are on this floor for patrons to rent out for 3 hours a day. They are used by nonprofits and patrons who just need a quiet place to read or study.

Onondaga Free Library’s website states that their mission is “to provide access to all for lifelong learning, innovative programs and services, and to promote the literacy and well being of the community (Onondaga Free Library (2019). Retrieved from https://oflibrary.org)

The website states that it was “Founded in 1960, this modern free association library was expanded and renovated in 2010.


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