2015-05-27 / Features

Queens Library Takes Three Out Of Ten Awards

(L. to r.); Dutton Children’s Books publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, Langston Hughes Library Executive Director Andrew P. Jackson, and Interim President of the Queens Library Bridget Quinn-Carey. (L. to r.); Dutton Children’s Books publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, Langston Hughes Library Executive Director Andrew P. Jackson, and Interim President of the Queens Library Bridget Quinn-Carey. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation announced on May 20 the five winners of the second annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, which celebrate the crucial role of local libraries in serving New York City’s diverse communities.

The winners emerged from more than 13,000 nominations by New Yorkers, who nominated every single branch in New York City’s three library systems: Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the New York Public Library, which operates branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

The five winners each received $20,000 at an awards ceremony in midtown Manhattan. They were selected from 10 finalists by a distinguished panel of independent judges: acclaimed authors Maira Kalman, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Jacqueline Woodson; Susan Hildreth, former Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; Dutton Children’s Books publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, and Maya Wiley, Counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The winning Queens Library branch was Langston Hughes Library in Corona. In addition to the five winners of this year’s NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, the other five finalists were presented with checks for $10,000. Among them were Cambria Heights Library and Sunnyside Library.

All 10 of these libraries also received a unique two-minute video – each crafted to reflect the impact of the particular branch – created by acclaimed filmmakers Juliane Dressner and Jesse Hicks. The videos can be used to promote each of the branches further and to extend public appreciation of the crucial role that they play.

The five winners emerged from a nomination process that began in November 2014 on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the media partner of the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, and ended in December. Each of the nominations was evaluated by Foundation staff and an independent review committee, focusing on libraries that demonstrated exceptional commitment to the needs of their respective neighborhoods. Site visits were conducted of potential finalists.

Carol, a Langston Hughes Library neighborhood resident, retiree, parent, and community group member, said: “In an era of so much ethnic and cultural strife, this is one of the beacons that unites people across ethnic and cultural lines and allow us to see just how much we really do have in common. Through its cultural and educational programs… this institution can continue to bridge and even close the gaps caused by ignorance and misunderstanding.”

Corona Library won last year’s award and so was not eligible for this year’s awards.

The more than 13,000 nominations revealed the wide range of crucial roles played by branch libraries in New York City. They are a welcoming presence, a safe haven, and a quiet place for reflection. They are highly attuned to neighborhood residents: their needs, cultures, and languages. They are the only source of books and internet for many New Yorkers. They serve as community centers, offering a remarkable variety of programs and activities – from those traditionally associated with libraries (including story time for children and book clubs) to others addressing contemporary needs (such as English as a Second Language, citizenship preparation, and resume-writing) to offerings tailored to specific communities (including many languages and shared cultures).

The demand for library services has only increased in a digital age. A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future – titled Branches of Opportunity and funded by the Charles H. Revson Foundation – revealed that over the past decade circulation at New York City libraries has increased by 59 percent, program attendance by 40 percent, and program sessions by 27 percent.

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