By Mark Hallum
Three Queens institutions have made it to the final 10 eligible to receive the NYC Neighborhood Library Award along with $20,000 to improve services for the communities they contribute to.
Up to 24,000 New Yorkers across the city voted, a 30 percent increase over the year before, for their neighborhood library to get recognition for offering vital resources to immigrants and lifelong residents, alike.
Only five will be chosen as winners, while the remaining finalists will each receive $10,000. The funds for the winners come from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation for Children. The Queens branches making it into the final 10 were the Queens Library at Bayside, Woodside and Lefferts in Richmond Hill, according to the organizers of the library awards.
One nomination came from a Bayside local who went only the name Daniela, who has been a lifetime supporter of her neighborhood branch at 214-20 Northern Blvd.
“My mother would bring my siblings and I multiple times a week for programs and activities that have had a tremendous impact on my life,” she said. “It not only made me realize what a love I have for literature and the arts, but helped me socialize as a shy childwith a diverse and kind population. Now, 24 years later, I am welcomed as more than just a community member, but a family member.”
An anonymous patron said the Lefferts branch, at 103-34 Lefferts Blvd., provides support for the LGBTQ community by hosting events and meetings for Unchained, organized by the Caribbean Equality Project, to end stigmas and open up dialogues about the experiences of these individuals.
“For 20 years I have been coming to this library,” the individual said in the press release. “I feel safe here, and with Unchained [LGBTQ] support meetings I now have a safe space to be myself.”
The Woodside branch was recognized for its support for those with disabilities. One resident said that when the branch’s elevator broke down, the staff at this location made arrangements to accommodate someone trying to attend a language class being taught on the second floor.
“One day, I saw a patron in a wheelchair in tears because the elevator was out of order and she couldn’t get to the second floor to attend the Korean Class,” an anonymous supporter of the branch said. “When the staff found this out, they immediately discussed it with the Korean teacher and suggested to move the class to the ground floor so the person in a wheelchair could attend the class. It shows that the staff there really care for their patrons.”
Queens libraries at Arverne and Glen Oaks took home prizes last year and have used the winnings to purchase furniture and sewing machines, while the Arverne branch refreshed its children’s book collection and hosted Zumba classes, holiday workshops and purchased new test preparation books.
The Bayside branch is currently in need of $13.2 million for improvements to the facility, while Woodside needs $7.2 million and Lefferts is short $905,000, the organizers said in a press release.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall