Opening a new chapter in its history, the Queens Borough Public Library is tapping former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott as its new leader.
The library’s board of trustees announced late on Monday that Walcott would become the library’s new president and CEO, taking the helm from Bridget Quinn-Carey, who operated Queens Library on an interim basis since September 2014.
Walcott served as the city’s schools chancellor under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from the spring of 2011 through the end of Bloomberg’s tenure at City Hall in 2013. He was previously the deputy mayor for education and community development during the Bloomberg administration.
Prior to being named the new Queens Library president, Walcott served as monitor of the East Ramapo School District in Rockland County, overseeing the district’s operations. According to Carl Seldin Koerner, chairman of the Queens Library board of trustees, Walcott is expected to begin his service to Queens Library in the middle of this month, pending the approval of the State Education Department.
“We are confident that Dennis Walcott has exactly the right skills and depth of experience to lead the library through the challenging years ahead,” said Koerner and Vice Chair Judith Bergtraum, who served as chair of the board’s Search Committee, in a joint statement.
“I look forward to working with all the fantastic, creative, dynamic staff and friends and visiting every community library, meeting and listening to their ideas and participating in initiatives that make life better and richer for their neighborhoods,” Walcott said.
Walcott, a St. Albans resident, is being looked upon to provide stable leadership at Queens Library, which was the subject of much scandal and upheaval over the last several years.
Its former president and CEO, Thomas Galante, was the center of controversy in 2014 over allegations of malfeasance and corruption. When the library’s board of trustees failed to dismiss him, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio intervened, removing and replacing eight trustees who rebuffed calls for Galante’s ouster.
The reconstituted board of trustees suspended Galante in September 2014, then fired him three months later. Galante is suing Queens Library for wrongful termination; the library subsequently filed a countersuit.
Katz praised the new Queens Library boss in a statement on Tuesday.
“At its core, the Queens Library exists to serve its educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture for millions of families,” she said. “I have full faith in the direction and future of the library, and look forward to the great things to come under Dennis’ leadership.”
Walcott is a product of the public schools system, having attended P.S. 36, I.S. 192 and Francis Lewis High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut in 1973.