Summer 2012 issue of Trustee
Queens Library is one of New York City’s three public library systems. From 61 community libraries plus a Central Library, seven Adult Learning Centers and two Family Literacy Centers, our library system serves 2.3 million people in one of the U.S.’s most diverse counties. Our workforce of approximately 1,300 dedicated professionals is comprised of one-third degreed librarians, one-third clerical public service staff and one-third non-public service staff.
While offering the traditional menu of library services, Queens Library has been a pioneer in innovative programs and services that go beyond the norm. We use library spaces and programs to actively reach out to the community and provide tools that serve real needs in real time.
Here are three examples:
Queens County has a large, diverse immigrant population. Almost half of Queens’ residents speak a language other than English at home. For more than 30 years, our New Americans Program has collected popular reading materials in the major immigrant languages and made them available in communities where they are popular. It serves the customers’ educational and informational needs, while introducing them to the broader benefits of library use. We also have the nation’s largest library-managed ESOL program. Queens Library staff has invested in forging strong partnerships with overseas libraries and U.S. vendors to supply the non-English materials. It has benefited our library customers greatly. We share our knowledge with libraries around the world.
Queens County has a higher than average rate of late-stage cancer diagnoses. The speculation is that the many undocumented, underinsured individuals are reluctant to seek medical screenings. Providing information in an environment they trust – their local public library – and even making medical appointments for them at the library, is helping to promote wellness and better health outcomes.
Job training and technology training programs are so valuable to our customers. We offer them one-on-one r?sum? assistance, interview coaching, and job search assistance. We have a full schedule of computer skills workshops from the very basics to advanced skills certifications, in English, Spanish and other languages as our staff is available. We also have two Literacy Zones, where barriers to employment are removed through the services of a Case Manager.
At the same time, we are busy lending an enormous volume of print and electronic books, videos and other library materials, offering more than 30,000 free library programs per year, plus a full range of reference services for all ages. We are able to accomplish as much as we do by leveraging technology. We have RFID-powered self service check in and check out. Customers are able to choose their preferred on-screen language. It gives customers receipts and allows them to pay fees at the terminal. It saves staff many hours of repetitive labor that they can better use to serve customers.
All Queens Library accomplishes on behalf of the community is due to a talented staff and a forward-thinking Board of Trustees. Our Trustees understand and support us in every way. Queens Library enriches lives.