The White Plains Examiner

MLK Freedom Library Moving to Slater Center

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Four and a half years ago, the Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence in White Plains launched its Freedom Library, a destination for children and adults looking to learn about King and the civil rights movement.

The library, located at Memorial United Methodist Church on Bryant Avenue, started with just a few dozen books and other sources. It’s grown to a collection of hundreds of books, DVDs, videotapes and audiotapes on subjects ranging from black history to bullying – anything related to civil rights and nonviolence. This week, the MLK Institute announced the library will be moving to the Thomas H. Slater Center, giving it more space and greater accessibility.

Children from White Plains Youth Bureau visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Library and reenact the 1955 Rosa Parks incident.

“The library was not used that much, because there was not that much traffic” at the church, explained Jacqueline Tynes, a retired librarian and a MLK Institute board member. “It’s out of the way. The Slater Center is in the center of White Plains.”

MLK Institute officials hope the move, announced Monday, will give the library greater visibility and more prominence. While it’s become a popular destination for youth groups and people studying topics relating to civil rights, MLK Institute Co-Chair Julie Carran said she believes the Freedom Library will reach a larger portion of the community at the Slater Center.

“This is a library that’s going to be accessible and responsive to whoever and whatever communities want to use it,” said Carran. “We want people to understand that these exciting materials, which are all in one place, could make for great browsing and reading and viewing.”

The Freedom Library was originally the idea of former MLK Institute chair Yvonne Jones and in January 2008, with the help of a grant from Westchester County, the library opened its doors at the Memorial United Methodist Church, where the organization is headquartered.

It’s been popular with groups like the White Plains Youth Bureau, which frequently bring students for lessons and workshops on the civil rights movement. Tynes recalled working with the children on a reenactment of the Rosa Parks incident.

“We discussed their feelings on civil rights,” said Tynes, who was active in the civil rights movement. “I sat in the back of the bus, so I was celebrity.”

The MLK Institute went to Slater Center officials earlier this year about the possibility of relocating the library.

“We were thinking about moving it for a while,” said Tynes, a Hartsdale resident who has worked for the Greenburgh and Mount Vernon libraries. “We approached the Slater Center, and they greeted us with open arms.”

The MLK Institute is in the process of renovating its new space, and Carran said she expects the library to open at the Slater Center, located at 2 Fisher Court, in September. In the meantime, the library will remain open by appointment. Anyone looking to visit the library before the move can call (914) 949-6555 or email


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