Tag Archives: Joanne King

Free lunches for kids to be distributed at Queens libraries this summer


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY PAULINA TAM

Twenty-two Queens Library locations, in partnership with the city’s Department of Education (DOE), will be distributing free summer meals to children and teens 18 years and under starting June 27 to August 29.

Bagged lunches will be served every Monday through Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and each will generally include a fresh sandwich, fruit, milk and sometimes a salad, according to library spokeswoman Joanne King.

“The library is an open public space and we want to attract people to come to the library,” King said. “While they’re here they can have free access to other programs. The Queens Library also has a very robust summer reading program and we want to encourage people to get involved with that so they can be better prepared for the academic program in the fall.”

There is no application, qualification or ID necessary to receive a free meal. Children and teens are recommended to arrive early to get lunches, while supplies last. The Queens Library is just one of many agencies collaborating with the DOE, and interested parties could call 311 to get a full list of participating locations.

Listed below are the participating Queens Library locations:

312 Beach 54 St., Arverne

14-01 Astoria Blvd., Astoria

117-11 Sutphin Blvd., Baisley Park

218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights

1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway

41-17 Main St., Flushing

202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis

89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

134-26 225th St., Laurelton

98-30 57th Ave., Lefrak City

37-44 21st St., Long Island City

40-20 Broadway (at Steinway Street), Long Island City

92-24 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

158-21 Jewel Ave., Pomonok (Flushing)

103-34 Lefferts Blvd., Richmond Hill

169-09 137th Ave., Rochdale Village

116-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park

204-01 Hollis Ave., South Hollis

108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., South Jamaica

43-06 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven

54-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside

 

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Queens Library board hires consultant to probe CEO’s salary, contract


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The Queens Library has hired an outside consultant to probe its embattled CEO’s whopping $392,000 salary and perks, the nonprofit’s top executives said Monday.

“We need to absorb the information we get from the study, as a board,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gabriel Taussig. “We’re committed to doing these things expeditiously and thoughtfully.”

The board is paying Hay Group $25,000 for a one-time review of Queens Library President and CEO Tom Galante’s entire compensation package and contract terms, officials said. The library boss is embroiled in news reports that claim he spent nearly $140,000 on a private smoking deck and office renovations.

The controversy also includes Galante’s $392,000 salary, $2 million severance package and $140,000 annual income from his side job consulting for the Elmont Union Free School District on Long Island.

Hay Group, a global management consulting firm hired last week, will size up Galante’s job against other comparable organization heads, which could lead to new contract negotiations, said Jacqueline Arrington, chair of the board’s administrative committee.

The firm has less than 90 days to report back with its findings and another 30 days after that to hammer out a new contract, library spokesperson Joanne King said.

“Whatever the end result is will be fair, reasonable, equitable and competitive,” said Galante, who declined to comment on whether he would take a pay cut.

The chief executive — when he wasn’t touting the library’s achievements — defended claims against him.

He reiterated his right as a “workaholic” to engage in outside employment, saying he sometimes puts in 125 total hours a week from both gigs. And he only consults as an “independent contractor, not an employee” from either Elmont or his home, he said.

Galante added his $2 million severance package is not considered a “golden parachute” and is only given to him if he is fired without wrongdoing.

The high exit payout is because of an “evergreen” clause in his five-year contract, amended in 2012, that allows it to be renewed automatically every year, Galante said.

The board plans to ax the clause in future contracts, according to Taussig, who would not confirm if that included Galante’s.

The consultation study is the first in a series of new measures the board plans to take to restore public trust and ease discontent amongst Queens lawmakers, board members said during a Feb. 25 sit-down meeting with several Queens reporters.

Since reports surfaced, State Senator Tony Avella has asked Galante to resign. Other state legislators and Borough President Melinda Katz say they are committed to getting a bill passed that would require financial disclosure from top library executives.

An audit committee within the Board of Trustees is underway, Arrington said. The board will decide if there should be more oversight into the hiring of top level executives, she added.

“I don’t want people to lose sight of what Queens Public Library has done for this borough,” Arrington said.

 

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Community members share vision for Laurelton, Rosedale library upgrades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

More room is coming to the Laurelton and Rosedale library branches and officials’ visions for the project is growing.

Councilmember Donovan Richards allocated $3 million for the two Queens Library reading spots to begin expansion and upgrade projects.

The Laurelton branch, currently 8,000 square feet, will double to 16,000 with the addition of a second floor.

“We’re really excited about that,” said Dave Wang, the Laurelton manager. “The community has a very high expectation and standard for the library. A lot of our residents depend on it.”

Wang hopes the additional space will allow the branch to offer more classes to the neighborhood; something that he said has been in demand.

“In Laurelton, there’s no community center. Everyone depends on the library,” he said.

Richards met with community members and library officials last week to discuss the visions for their respective branches.

“He’s been so supportive from the get-go,” said Joanne King of the Queens Library. “It’s really a wonderful thing for us to see.”

Roughly $1.7 million of Richards’ funds will get the Laurelton expansion off the ground, but $9.8 million is still needed for completion, according to library officials.

Rosedale will receive $1 million, but will still need $6.3 million, King said. The branch’s square footage will expand from 6,000 to 9,400.

Branch officials were able to share their hopes for teen and children spaces at last week’s meeting.

“This is only the beginning, but it’s a very big help,” Wang said.

 

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Despite 5 years of cuts, Queens Library retained all service hours and jobs


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Despite five consecutive years of budget cuts that eliminated more than $16 million in operating expenses, the Queens Library will begin a new chapter — with all jobs and service hours retained.

“Given the staggering cuts we were facing, to not have one library close, not one library reduce its hours, to keep libraries where they’re at, was a tremendous victory,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who chairs the City Council’s committee on libraries.

The libraries’ budget was threatened with $26 million in reductions, which would have forced 18 of the borough’s 62 institutions to shut their doors. Thirty more would have had to close at least four days a week.

Rallies were held throughout the borough to prevent the city from closing the book on Queens libraries.

“We’re very, very grateful the council kept the libraries a priority,” said Joanne King, associate director of communications for the Queens Library. “We will stay open in every community and everyone in Queens should be very grateful for that.”

Six hundred staffers’ jobs were also saved with the restoration.

“I heard when [the budget] was announced there were workers literally in tears knowing their jobs had been saved,” said Van Bramer, who worked for the Queens Library before being elected. “That’s something I’m really proud of, that we saved jobs.”

Though the “doomsday budget” did not pass, the library still had $1.8 million slashed for this fiscal year, which began on July 1. The ongoing hiring freeze will also reduce staff. The library employs about 200 fewer staffers than four years ago.

Less staff means the library needs to get creative so no service is affected, King said.

To prevent further cuts, Van Bramer said libraries’ budgets can’t be radically reduced in early financial plans. Steep cuts to the preliminary and executive budget make restoring all the money more difficult and puts “libraries’ backs against the wall,” the councilmember said.

“We have to not start so far behind,” said Van Bramer, who added the council will look to restore funds as the economy improves. “What we’re going to need to do under a new mayor is not cut libraries to the bone in the preliminary budget.”

Grant will go to Queens libraries


| squigley@queenscourier.com


Times are tough and the Queens Library has been facing deep cuts, but a New Year has brought with it a gift to help offset budgetary constraints.
Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian announced that the organization will be giving $5 million to the public library systems of New York.

The Queens Library, which serves 2.2 million of New York’s student population, adult learning community and literary enthusiasts alike, will be receiving a $1.5 million infusion. Just last year alone, the city cut $3 million from libraries.

Some library patrons already have their hopes set for what is to come with the grant. Borough bookworms anticipate such luxuries as better access to best sellers, reopening of libraries on Saturdays, more children’s programs, part-time work opportunity, more computers and of course, elongated rental periods.

“Sometimes, especially during the holidays, seven days is just not enough time to finish an 800-page book,” said Ellen,  a Bay Terrace Library frequenter.

However, some are a little more skeptical about the possibility of any immediate and meaningful change. Faithful Queens Library patron Andy told The Courier, “The libraries need all the money they can get their hands on, because they aren’t getting it from [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg. These days, even $5 million is just a drop in the bucket, but hey, every bit helps.”

Queens Public Library spokesperson Joanne King said that they cannot yet be sure of exactly what change, if any, is to come, saying, “I can’t say things won’t change because it is simply too early to tell.”

King said that after the budget cuts, the library has a “desperate need to fill in the losses.”

The New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library will also benefit from the grant.

With this latest contribution, the Carengie Corporation would have donated $15 million to New York’s libraries over the last 14 years.

Queens Library welcomes first lady of the Republic of China


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Patrons of the Forest Hills Library received a once-in-a-lifetime lesson on Chinese culture on October 13.

The first lady of the Republic of China, Madame Ma Chow Mei-Ching, visited the library, located at 108-19 71st Avenue, to present a donation of 10 children’s picture books. The books, which are written in Chinese, were contributed with the purpose of encouraging young Americans to learn more about the traditions of China.

Along with her gift, Madame Ma entertained children with tales about the Chinese Zodiac and educated them in the art of creating an origami mouse – the first of the 12 animals of the Zodiac.

A group of elementary school students from the southern Taiwanese county of Pingtung who are traveling with the first lady regaled visitors with a musical performance, which included ancient melodies from the Paiwan aboriginal tribe.

“Queens Library was honored to welcome Madame Ma Chow Mei-Ching and her guests,” said Joanne King, the associate director of communications for Queens Library. “Queens has more than 195,000 people whose first language is Chinese and who have strong cultural ties to their homeland. It is our mission to provide them with reading material in their own language, and to provide our English-speaking library users with a greater understanding of the great art, culture and economy of China. Library users in Queens will make good use of this generous gift, and we are so appreciative.”