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City of Rochester

Library Programs


The Rochester Public Library brings the world of learning to life with a host of interactive programs geared for all ages. From resume-writing workshops to movie viewings, these programs range from practical self-improvement courses to just plain fun. They all help the library fulfill its central mission of fostering intellectual curiosity and demonstrating the value of understanding our world. Programs are offered at the Central Library and our ten library branches, conveniently located throughout the city of Rochester. Below is a sampling of some of the programs we have to offer.

For Children and Their Families

Story Times

Story Time at Highland Branch Library
Story Times for preschoolers or kindergartners might include reading stories based on a theme, singing a song or two, finger puppets or repeating some rhymes that often include placing figures on a flannel board. These events allow children to have fun while gaining book experience and playing with language, both necessary steps to literacy. Story Times also have the added benefit of introducing young children to their neighborhood libraries by providing them a regular opportunity to visit these community treasures. Hopefully, it’s the start of a lifelong relationship.

  • Charlotte Branch offers separate Story Times for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  
  • Sully Branch has a weekly Story Time for children under five. 
  • Lincoln Branch has a weekly Story Time for children under five.

Homework Help

If your child need a little extra help with his or her school assignments, the Lincoln Branch has friendly and knowledgeable librarians willing to offer free homework assistance for Rochester-area students of any age and in any subject. Homework Help is offered Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Interested students or their parents or guardians should come down to the Lincoln Branch library for a little extra help on those particularly tough assignments. 

Birthday Club

Is it your child's fifth or sixth birthday? Then it's time for your little one to get his or her first library card, plus a birthday card and treats.

  • Charlotte Branch offers a Birthday Club, where children who are turning five or six may receive their first library card, along with a birthday card and treats.

Class Visits

Most library branches can host visits by school groups, providing teachers an opportunity to help their students learn about the tremendous resources of neighborhood libraries. These visits can be tailored to meet the teachers’ needs. Library card applications are sent to the teacher a few weeks in advance, so they can be sent home with the students. The teacher collects the applications and returns them to the library in advance of the visit. On the day of the visit, children receive their new library cards and browse the collections to find items to borrow. Appointments are necessary.

Entertainment Programs

Knight and friend at Monroe BranchReptile Guys at Phillis Wheatley Community Library  

Who says learning can’t be fun? Magicians, jugglers, comedians, musicians and even animal handlers are just a few of the entertainers who have visited our libraries and demonstrated the skills and interests they have dedicated so much of their lives to learning. Families can stop by for a movie or for the annual Children’s Film Festival. And who knows? Maybe the children will find a book, CD or movie that may interest them while they’re here.

Movie Showings

Are you looking for a film for the whole family to enjoy, free of charge? Some Rochester-area libraries offer free movie showings for all to enjoy. The selection ranges from classic films to new releases, but all are G-rated and safe for the family.

  • Lyell Branch offers free showings of movies every Monday.

For Teens, Young Adults, and Adult Learners

GED and other Tutoring Programs

Abel Cin Zam
Several city libraries hold classes to help patrons prepare to take the GED exam. Abel Cin Zam, pictured right, is a Burmese refugee who recently earned his GED after participating in the program. Many branches have Literacy Aides who read with children, help them with homework and play educational games with them after school. 

Safe to Be Smart

This is an afterschool program located in the teen centers of several Rochester libraries. Teens can get help with homework, résumé writing and computer skills while socializing with their peers and Youth Services Workers. 

For Adults

Books Sandwiched-In

Jeff Spevak at Books Sandwiched-In program
This is our answer to the greatest dilemma of book lovers everywhere: “So many books, so little time.” Squeeze your love of books into your work day by listening to a review by a local expert or celebrity. Bring your lunch and listen. When it’s over, you know if you should put another book on your must-read list, or take one off. Beverages are available.

Tuesday Topics and Thursday Thinkers

Sharpen your mind in the middle of the work day by attending a lunchtime presentation about a wide variety of current issues of interest and concern. Local professionals representing a wide range of areas offer the presentations. 

Making Nutrition Fun 

If you’re trying to learn how to cook healthier food while also staying within the limits of your food budget, then the Arnett Branch Library’s Healthy Eating Class is the event for you! Class members will learn recipes for easy, healthy eating, as well as other tips for leading an active and healthy lifestyle. Tips will also be given on how to save money on each week’s grocery bill. Every class features free food samples from the instructor as well as kitchen supply giveaways.

Monthly Small Business Programs

The Business & Social Sciences Division of the  Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County and the College at Brockport Small Business Development Center (SBDC) co-sponsor free monthly programs on small business topics. These topics include marketing, time management, starting a small business, and legal issues surrounding small businesses. See the Library Events page for more information about individual classes and for registration.

Brownbag Book Discussion

The Brownbag Book Discussion Series allows adults to meet once a month at Rundel Auditorium and share information and ideas about the readings. Meetings take place on the 4th Wednesday of each month and all are invited. For more information, visit the event page or email Carol Moldt at cmoldt@libraryweb.org. She is also available by phone at 428-8378.  

Charlotte Branch Library's Food for Thought Book Discussion Group

Similar to the Brownbag Book Discussion Series, the Food for Thought Book Discussion Group at the Charlotte Branch Library holds book discussions for adults. Meetings take place on the third Tuesday of each month from September through June at 12:30 p.m. Visit the event page for more information or call Deborah Nevin at (585) 428-8304 for specific accommodation inquiries.  

Watch the events calendar for upcoming events. Please call your local branch library for more details. 

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