Tag Archives: libraries

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer discusses vision for new majority leader role


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is looking forward to the next four years as majority leader.

Van Bramer was appointed on Jan. 22 by newly elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“It’s a great honor, not only for me, but for our district, for our team and for Queens,” Van Bramer said. “It was a very humbling experience. It took a while to sink in.”

As majority leader, his key role is working together with the 48 Democratic members of the City Council and serving as a bridge between them and Mark-Viverito.

Van Bramer has also been named co-chair of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team.

Since his appointment, the councilmember has hit the ground running and plans to get involved in working on subjects such as paid sick leave and universal pre-kindergarten.

“We are active every single day and I am looking forward to being a very influential majority leader over the next four years,” he said.

Van Bramer hopes to work together with his fellow councilmembers to help in any way he can.

“I’m here to help them achieve their goals and to use my office and my proximity to the speaker to advance their goals, their agendas and their districts,” he said. “I hope that they will call on me anytime they need and I will go to the speaker and advocate for them in every way I can. That’s the kind of majority leader I want to be.”

The councilmember also retained his position as chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee. He plans to continue working with the libraries and growing cultural community to make sure the budgets and appropriate funds work for them.

“I’m excited about the work ahead,” said Van Bramer. “It’s a great time and I feel reinvigorated. I am going to work incredibly hard in being the best majority leader that I can be and then the future will take care of itself.”

 

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Libraries get funding to expand


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Maggie Hayes

Ten-year-old Darius Barnes was upset when he learned his local Laurelton library might be closing.

“I didn’t want it to close,” he said. “The library has helped me.”

Barnes goes to the library after school, where he has been able to do homework and projects, as well as take courses in Mandarin with the site’s manager, Dave Wang.

When the budget for the 2014 Fiscal Year was initially proposed, library funding was set for across-the-board cuts. Ultimately, the cuts put the Rosedale and Laurelton libraries at risk of closure. The community and the City Council responded and were able to take the cuts out of the budget altogether.

Additionally, Councilmember Donovan Richards allocated nearly $3 million in extra funding to expand his district’s libraries.

“This library is my second home,” said Ruth Wright, 11, at the Laurelton site.

Wright, just as Barnes, visits the library after school and said not only has it given her a place to do homework, but also has given her the opportunity to meet new friends.

“Cutting funding to our libraries is the same as cutting funding to our youth,” Richards said.

Libraries are the central parts of the neighborhoods, he said, and these allocated funds will kick off a long-term project of expanding and improving the Laurelton, Rosedale and Rockaway libraries.

“Learning is the key. That’s what this library is about,” said Dwight Johnson, president of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton. “This is what we need in our community.”

Richards’ goal is to allocate $3 million a year for district libraries. He said the Rosedale library will take $7 million to fully expand and complete and $11 million for Laurelton.

“The idea is to give young adults a safe place where they can congregate and grow, with the latest technologies – this gives them a reason to stay in the libraries and off the streets,” he said.

Headlines from around the web


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The Afternoon Roundup

Dolphin washes ashore in Far Rockaway, dies shortly after

Scientists were unable to save a sickly beached dolphin in Far Rockaway that died en route to a treatment center on Friday. Franly Estrella, 24, first spotted the 6-foot-long, 140-pound stranded creature at 9:30 a.m. at Beach 19th St. NYDailyNews

Jay-Z concert highlights Barclays Center opening

Brooklyn was the center of New York’s entertainment world last night, as the $1 billion Barclays Center opened with a sold-out concert by the borough’s own Jay-Z. The rap mogul performed for 19,000 screaming fans in a glam-filled coming-out party for the spectacular arena in Prospect Heights. “I have been on many stages all around the world. Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn, I swear to God!” the Bed-Stuy native shouted out as he took the stage. NYPost

Miracle landing at JFK

It really was a “magic” ride. The twisted front landing gear of a jumbo jet nicknamed The Magic Red Carpet miraculously rotated back into position just seconds before landing at JFK yesterday — as panicked passengers braced themselves for a crash. “It was like the hand of God turned the wheel,” said a Port Authority cop who was part of the disaster-response crew deployed to the tarmac. NYPost

Former NYTimes publisher Arthur Ochs dead at 86

Former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who led the newspaper to new levels of influence and profit amid some of the most significant moments in 20th-century journalism, died Saturday. He was 86. NYPost

City to expand library program

Millions of books will soon be within easy reach of young bookworms in the city. The city is expanding its MyLibraryNYC program to all public schools. Students and teachers will be able to directly order books and other materials from the New York, Queens and Brooklyn Public Libraries. NY1

 

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.