From Checking Vitals to Checking Books, Astrid Namaroff Chairs the Library Committee

Astrid N., the chair of The Knolls' library committee.

When retired nurse practitioner, Astrid Namaroff, was voted into The Knolls Residents’ Council and then asked to lead a subcommittee, she figured it would probably be for a group that focused on health-related matters. After all, since Astrid was one of the first 12 women to graduate as a nurse practitioner in New York, taught at Columbia University’s School of Nursing for 11 years as an associate professor and had also worked at Jacobi Hospital—among other career highlights—it wasn’t an outrageous assumption. However, it all went in a completely different direction.

“I was asked to be the chairperson of the library committee,” Astrid says with a laugh. “I didn’t know anything about running a library!”

Nevertheless, she accepted the challenge. “Well, it’s something new and I like to tackle new projects,” she says. “And now I’ll learn about libraries.” The council assured Astrid that she would be supported  and suggested she set up a committee. “So, I invited four people to join. One person was a librarian in Scarsdale,” Astrid says. “Everyone pitched in, and it’s been working very well,” she continued.

Astrid and her husband, Ron, who had owned an advertising agency in Manhattan, are from Hartsdale. They moved to The Knolls in March 2019. “I had attended some events here and knew what The Knolls was like,” Astrid says. “I was ready to move in, but it was a little harder for my husband to give up our home. Now that we are here, he loves it!”

Looking over the literature

It’s been a busy year for the couple, who also spent some time in Florida this winter. Upon their return, Astrid resumed her oversight of library operations. She explains that since it’s open 24/7, a simple sign-in process for borrowing and returning books is used. Also, each committee member is assigned a day to process and re-shelve returned books.

The library offers a diverse collection of fiction, nonfiction, religion, biographies . . . the whole gamut. Astrid says all categories have a large readership, but fiction is probably the most popular. She says there is also a dedicated following for the Judaica section.

The library at The Knolls in Westchester

She explains that a large source of the library’s inventory comes from new residents arriving at The Knolls. “Their books are precious to them and as they downsize, they donate their books to the library,” Astrid says. This generosity allows other people to enjoy them, too.

Also popular are the large-print books that are donated by the Greenburgh Public Library via The Knolls book club. “Our book club has a nice relationship with the Greenburgh library,” Astrid says. In fact, for one of The Knolls’ programs, a resource person came from the Greenburgh Library to discuss using Kindles. Astrid continued, “It was very helpful. And even though some of our residents do have Kindles, they still like to sign out books.”

The library also has a reader machine that facilitates reading small print by projecting it on a screen, much like the effect of an overhead projector, and it accommodates one person at a time. And most recently, The Knolls installed computers in the library to offer the full experience.

The biggest challenge, according to Astrid, is weeding out the abundant number of books they currently have, as they exceed the available shelving. “We still have some stored in a closet,” she says, from when they moved into this new library space after the renovations. The original library is now a lounge.

Other immediate projects include the plan to color code each category’s signage as well as their corresponding books with color-coded labels on their spines. Astrid said they are also hoping to acquire a library cart and another free-standing book rack for paperbacks.

A lovely environment for reading, and a lovely place to live

The peaceful ambience of the library makes it a welcome place for people to sit and read. The décor includes colorful pieces of art, donated by the Art Class and from residents’ personal collections, comfortable furnishings and natural light that create the perfect setting to immerse oneself in a book. “Just about every time I go by, I see someone in there,” Astrid says. “I’m so glad people avail themselves of it.”

Astrid will chair the library committee for two years. “I’m still pretty new at this and learning my way around. We are open to suggestions for new book categories or other ideas,” she says.

Meanwhile, as Astrid and Ron approach their first full year of living at The Knolls, Astrid says, “We like the ambience here. Everyone is a friend.”

If you would like to know more about living in Westchester and how a Continuing Care Retirement Community such as The Knolls can offer the most optimal lifestyle, contact us for more information or call our friendly team at 914-461-4517 today!

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