Meet PMHS alumni Oz Coto-Chang, the man behind youth services at Pelham library

We’ve all been to the Pelham Public Library to check out a few books or to find a quiet place to study. But many don’t pause to consider who makes the library so special. For ten years, Youth services librarian Oz Coto-Chang has spread his love for books to the Pelham community.

Coto-Chang has worked at the Pelham Public Library for ten years. However, Coto-Chang’s connection to the library is much older; Coto-Chang has been an active user of the library for more than twenty years.

Even before the library moved to its current location on Colonial Avenue in 1995, Coto-Chang spent his childhood checking out books from the library’s original location. With him and his siblings all having worked there, the Coto-Chang family has a deep connection to Pelham and its library.

“The Village of Pelham Library, chartered in 1915, was a single classroom at the Hutchinson School and was absorbed into the Town of Pelham Public Library,” said Coto-Chang. “I used to go to Hutch, so it was easy for me to visit that library after school.” Checking out books at Hutch was totally an option. “They had laser pens to read barcodes. Our library cards were pasted on Library Due Date Note Card.”

After graduating PMHS in 2003, Oz attended Stony Brook University for his undergraduate degree. “After working so long at the library and enjoying helping people find books, I decided to apply for library school,” he said. He later attended Queens College and earned his Masters in Library Science in 2013.

Coto-Chang spent his first eight years at the library serving as its clerk. Two years ago, he was promoted to Youth Services Librarian. Coto-Chang’s time at the Library has taught him how important it is to the people of Pelham.

“The library is an incredible community center open to providing free information and help,” said Coto-Chang. “We provide all these services for free: book loaning, computer use, DVDs, audiobooks, eBooks & eAudiobooks, program events open to the public, museum passes.”

Among its many other programs, the Library even holds drop-in hours from 3:00-4:45 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays for students from Kindergarten through sixth grade looking for homework help, and for adults who need tech help with apps and other help with digital devices and programs.

It’s clear Coto-Chang believes in the importance of reading. In fact, Coto-Chang’s favorite part of his job is reading books to children for story time. He’s even in on all the cool songs like Baby Shark and Wheels on the Bus.

“Reading provides the natural development of skills through the enjoyment of books and storytelling, the importance of positive interactions between children, parents and caregivers, and the library provides the critical role of having such a literacy-rich experience,” he said.

Coto-Chang is also very active in the Pelham community. Last year, he helped run Colonial Elementary School’s Spelling Bee. However, it seems as though the Library will always hold a special place in Coto-Chang’s heart. “It isn’t just about homework or research, but (about) enjoying someone’s imagination put into print in a collection of pages,” he said.

Visit the Pelham Public Library and be sure to look for Coto-Chang.