Tannis 1189 cropped“We want Eden to embrace both of the cultures in his life and to speak both English and Spanish,” says Martha Ayala Tannis.  “The Fair Haven branch library helps us achieve that.”

“We moved here from New York City and we just love New Haven.  When Eden was born, three years ago, the librarians helped me find books on infant care and child development.  Now, we use all kinds of services – books, movies, audio books, story time, even the summer reading program.  Eden loved the prizes for reading.  We go to all the library branches, even some out of town, but Fair Haven is home.  The library is real involved in the neighborhood and comes to the fairs and other community events.”

“We speak English to Eden but we read to him in Spanish and the Fair Haven branch has a great collection of Spanish children’s books, and movies.  There is even a Spanish story hour, which pulls it all together for us.  I have committed to home schooling Eden so I will be relying even more on the library’s help.  Fair Haven and the library are at the center of our lives.”


1203 Edna Cropped“The library is a resource for living your whole life,” says Edna McCoy. “It’s a place to learn whatever you want to learn and to get involved in things.”

“Since I’ve retired, I have time to relax and learn.  The library has provided so much information.  Anything I need to know, the librarians help.  I grew up going to the old Stetson branch.  I can still see the inside of that building.   Now, I use Mitchell and I come downtown to Main for computer classes every week.”

“I needed to know how to print addresses on envelopes. The librarian took the time to show me how. Something as small as that, they help with.   I’ve gotten connected to community groups, gone to lectures; I’m even in a knitting club at Mitchell.  I bring my niece and nephew, who go to Edgewood School, to Mitchell for Homework Help.  The computer classes are just what I need – one on one help at my speed.  I saw a flyer at Mitchell and decided to take advantage.”

“One of the new things I’ve done with the library is to “check-out” Long Wharf Theater tickets.  I’ve seen some wonderful plays thanks to the library.”

“I’ve been in this community 60 years and the library is still helping.  I wish everyone knew how much the library does.”



“Fair Haven Library is like a second family to me,” says Yesenia Cruz.  “I’m eighteen now, I got my first library card here on a class trip and I’ve been here ever since.  My mother and four sisters use Fair Haven as well.  It’s just a twenty minute walk for us.”


“We use it for books and magazines for school and pleasure reading, for computers and for  programs.  It’s been a great study place for me – quieter than home – and I studied here in high school and now for college at Gateway.  The staff has always been wonderful; I even worked for them one summer through Youth at Work.”

“Over the years, I’ve participated in summer reading programs at school.  I never could have bought all those books – I checked them out here. The staff was so supportive as I applied for scholarships for college and were so proud when I received the New Haven Scholarship as well as qualified for New Haven Promise.”

“The Main library is gorgeous, but Fair Haven is the perfect size, filled with books and friends.  After Gateway, I want to finish up at University of New Haven, and I’ll still be here, at my second home.”


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Ji Young Kim looks proudly over at her two boys, talking a mile a minute, surrounded by books, papers, homework assignments. “On the second day we were in this country, we found the public library and got a library card,” she says. “The boys needed to improve their English before school started and we participated in the Summer Reading Club, with extra books for them to read. By the fall, they were ready” Ji Young and her family came to New Haven from Korea by way of Israel. She and her husband came to Yale as visiting scholars. The family’s mother tongue is Korean and they speak Hebrew as well. In New Haven, of course, English was necessary. The family spoke and understood some English but the library was one of the places they relied on to polish their skills. They found more than just language skills, though. “I checked out various books, even cookbooks, to understand the culture and ways of America, and the boys used the children’s programs and books. We saw a flyer for English as a Second Language classes held at the library and my husband and I joined. I wanted to improve my spoken English and the conversational English classes have been very helpful. Now, the boys, who are aged 13 and 8, come in for school projects. The librarians help them research and work. We’ve made friends here and it’s a great part of our weekly lives.”

The New Haven Free Public Library touches lives across the entire New Haven community; all neighborhoods, all ages, all types of people. What would the world be without the public library?


Shirley“The library has been such a blessing to me,” says Shirley Rice.  “I’m in my 80’s and I decided to try computers.  After I bought one, the younger friend who was helping me suggested the classes at the library.  My experience has been that free classes are hard to get into, but I was so pleased to get right in.  I don’t have a car, so I take a bus from Bella Vista to the classes at the Main library.  I was paired with a youngster to help me one-on-one.  It is so good to have the young people teaching the seniors.  You hear so much bad about the young; it’s nice to see them doing something good.  They tell me that the library has 220 computers for people to use.  I see all the folks on the computers and I think it’s good that they’re doing something for themselves.  I’m using my computer now to find information on the things I want.  What a nice experience!”

“But, I also use the library for other things,” continues Shirley.   “I never finish a book and so I decided to join a book club.  It’s a great bunch of gals, 8 or 9 of us, and we meet once a month at the Fair Haven branch for an hour, or until we stop talking!  We’re from all over the country and we’ve ended up in New Haven so it’s a real varied group.  The branch manager gets us copies of the books to borrow so we don’t have to buy all these books and she’s a help with suggestions.  The group has ended up being a real nice group of friends and socializing as well as the books–which I now finish, I’m glad to report.  As I said, the library has just been a blessing.”


Famatta“My four kids are power readers, just like me,” says Famatta Gibson.  “We would be lost without Mitchell branch library.  My younger children learned to read with books and programs at the library and we come every Saturday to check out a new stack.  The staff here are so careful to find just the best books for each child’s interest.  We’ve read a lot of the kid’s series and as they grow, the library’s books are there at each level.”

“I’m from Liberia, West Africa, and we don’t have buildings with books like this, to borrow and keep getting more.  It’s a wonderful part of this country.  My kids love the programs, all their friends here, and the computers to use while we’re here, but we also just sit and read.  It’s a part of our neighborhood, our weekly life.”


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“I became connected with the Stetson branch by chance – through the Youth at Work program,” says Jasmine Haynes. “I’m a senior at Co-Op High School, I live in Newhallville and I want to go to college. The librarians helped me research colleges and connected me with community people to talk about different choices. I used the library’s computers to file the applications when the Internet was out at my house. Then, they helped me find sources for scholarships and guided me through filling out the FAFSA applications. I’ve been accepted at Trinity College in DC, Southern CT University and Hampton University in Virginia and I’m waiting to hear about financial aid. I thought that libraries were about books – I never knew that they would help people, too.”



Grandma and Boy enhanced“I came to this country a few months ago from China with my grandson, Hu Jia Xu,” says Mrs. Qu Cai Lin. “My son and family are here and we came to join them. Neither of us spoke English. New Haven is a nice place, but it’s very different from home.”

“I’d never been to a place like the children’s room at the downtown library, but we come almost every day now. Not only are there books, magazines, movies and music in Chinese, but we are both able to make friends here and some of the librarians speak Chinese. My grandson never wants to leave. I’ve learned some English, have a library card and plan to take classes. The library has totally changed my idea of America.”