By Ivan Pereira
This holiday season, the Queens Public Library is asking its users and others to lend a helping hand to increase its selection of materials.
On Friday, the library’s volunteer fund-raising group, the Friends of the Queens Library, kicked off an emergency initiative to raise money for books. The recession has crippled the library’s spending, according to spokeswoman Joanne King.
In the past it was able to purchase more than a million new books a year, but this year it was only able to acquire a couple thousand, according to King.
“We have halted the purchasing of new material that isn’t already in the pipeline. That was done to balance the budget,” she said.
Special “Buy a Book” envelopes are available at branches across the borough and users are encouraged to donate any amount they wish. The envelopes will also be made available at area businesses, King said.
Several corporations and mom and pop stores have pledged their support to the library over the years and the spokeswoman said it has helped the organization tremendously.
“It’s hyperlocal,” she said of the program. “The books stay in the community and the money will be doubled.”
Those who donate $25 or more will be eligible for a personalized bookplate that will bear the name of the donor or a friend.
Despite having a smaller budget, the Queens Library has experienced a sharp increase in demand over the years as patrons come to check out not only books but also movies, video games and periodicals. Patrons also flock to branches to use the free Internet access for research and job search opportunities, according to King.
Each branch has its own goal for the fund-raising effort, and King said she is sure the initiative will yield positive results for the system.
“We’re hopeful that it will be an active campaign, because we know people are concerned,” King said.
For more information on the “Buy a Book” program, call 718-990-8585 or log on to .queenslibrary.org.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.