By Gina Martinez
The Queens Borough Board held a meeting at Borough Hall Monday to review Queens Library’s new strategic planning process. Borough President Melinda Katz chaired the meeting and Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott led the presentation on the library’s new plans.
“The library has been moving forward, I believe, in such a positive way,” Katz said. “Everything is never perfect, but this library system with Dennis and the new board of trustees has been moving and being responsive in our communities. Projects are moving forward and it’s been an exciting time for the library.”
Katz praised Walcott’s work in the last year.
“The library is responsible for providing access to cultural education resources for our children as well as adults,” Katz said. “Since he assumed leadership of the library this past March, Walcott has been working to ensure all residents of the borough of Queens are able to utilize and enjoy our great library system. Walcott is here this evening to give us an update on the library’s new strategic planning process that seeks to gather input from all stakeholders and identify the path forward for the future.”
Walcott mentioned the recent groundbreaking at the new 32,000-square-foot East Elmhurst branch, almost doubling the space, which will be the biggest opening the library has had in years.
“We want to make sure people know our mission and have input in taking a look at where we should be in the next five years or so. Some recent activity that has taken place as a result of the borough president’s leadership and the leadership of the mayor is that we now have baseline city funding, we have six day-a-week service, we have record investments in our facility and as a result of that we are having roughly 100 capital projects taking place throughout the borough of Queens at our libraries from very small things, to large things,” he said. “Renovations, system upgrades, CCTV, all of these things are meant to improve our libraries.”
Walcott said more than 1 million people attended programs this past fiscal year and that the library had over 11 million visitors in the past year and circulated more than 13 million items. He also highlighted the “Digital Q” program, a collaboration with Queens Hospital Center, where either patients or someone visiting a patient at the hospital can now access 100,000 titles of magazines. The library also worked with Google to teach young people how to code and held English classes paired with coping skills for the new immigrants.
Walcott also talked about the Jamaica Feast Program, a culinary program which will operate out of the Central branch in Jamaica. He said renovations have begun at the Central Branch’s kitchen to make sure it is upgraded to be able to accommodate the program.
There are also plans for future repairs to the Hunters Point branch sometime in the late Summer or early fall of 2017and to the Kew Gardens Hills branch, all major projects in various stages.
“To me the beauty of any agency, any system, is constantly taking a look at itself and making sure we continue to grow and respond to the needs of the community and undertaking a process that will allow us to get maximum input,” Walcott said.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart