NYC Neighborhood Libraries_groupLibrary leaders, staff, friends, and council members gathered May 20 in a grand celebration atop New York City’s Hearst Tower to for the second NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. This year, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation teamed up to make the awards even more impactful, doubling the total award amounts and creating strong engagement with library users along the way. The ten winning branch libraries were selected from more than 13,000 nominations. The five winners, which each received $20,000, are: Langston Hughes Library, Corona (Queens); Mott Haven Library, Mott Haven (the Bronx); New Lots Library, East New York (Brooklyn); Parkchester Library, Parkchester (the Bronx); and Stapleton Library, Stapleton (Staten Island).
New York City’s libraries get a fair amount of attention, but all too rarely is it directed to the branches. Those neighborhood hubs arguably have the greatest impact and potential, cultivating the essential connection to the community at the most local levels in more than 207 buildings. Unfortunately, according to the Center for an Urban Future, they are also at risk. The time has arrived to embrace a new citywide strategy to deliver excellent library services to all New Yorkers.
Within 24 hours of being dismissed by the recently reconstituted Queens Library (QL) Board of Trustees on the evening of December 17, former QL President and CEO Thomas Galante announced via his lawyer Hillary Prudlo that he would sue for wrongful termination. The reorganized board had placed Galante on indefinite, paid administrative leave on September 11, citing an ongoing audit of QL’s finances by New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, and investigations by the city Department of Investigation (DOI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding construction contracts awarded by the library.
Bringing apparent closure to a months-long fight for control of the Queens Library (QL) Board of Trustees, Judge Frederic Block of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday November 26 dismissed Arrington et al v. Katz, a lawsuit filed in August by six former QL trustees against Queens Borough President (QBP) Melinda Katz and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In the wake of accusations that suspended Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas W. Galante mishandled library funds, Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) proposed legislation on October 21 that would require all three of New York’s public library systems to publicly disclose how their money is spent.
When superstorm Sandy hit the east coast in October 2012, the Queens Library (QL) in New York was among many northeastern library systems affected. QL persevered, continuing to offer crucial services in storm-ravaged communities while rebuilding damaged branches. The system also managed to turn a generous corporate donation into an innovative new platform for tablet computers, enabling a tech lending program that has since continued to grow.
Thomas W. Galante, the embattled president and CEO of the Queens Library in New York, on the evening of September 11 was placed on indefinite, paid administrative leave by the library’s recently reorganized board, following months of negative local news coverage regarding his $392,000 salary, his consulting work, library renovation projects that included his office, and an FBI investigation regarding QL’s procedures for awarding construction contracts.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on August 12 appointed Jukay Hsu, founder of the community development organization Coalition for Queens (C4Q), to the Queens Borough Public Library (QL) Board of Trustees. The appointment fills one of eight positions left vacant since July 23, when de Blasio dismissed two of the library’s trustees and Queens Borough President (QBP) Melinda Katz dismissed six.
New legislation passed by the New York state House and Senate and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the Mayor of New York and Queens Borough President new authority to appoint and eliminate members of the Queens Public Library (QPL) Board of Trustees. The new law is sponsored by Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and authored in part by Borough President Melinda Katz. It is widely seen as a response to the fact that calls for more oversight and transparency from the board over questions about the compensation of QPL CEO Thomas Galante and his relationship with contractors doing construction work for the library have been largely ignored by the current board.