Tag Archives: Queens Library

Construction set to start on Hunters Point Community Library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of the Queens Library

The Long Island City community celebrated Thursday morning the beginning of construction of a new waterfront library set to have the best view in Queens.

Local elected officials, community leaders, students from P.S./I.S. 78 and residents of the western Queens neighborhood came together for the start of the construction phase for the Hunters Point Community Library, which will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, right next to Gantry Plaza State Park.

“This is an amazing historic day for Hunters Point, Long Island City,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped secure $30 million to begin construction of the new branch. “For so many folks here who may have thought, ‘Is it really ever going to happen?’ today we are here to say it is, it’s happening, it’s real, this is a huge victory.”

The state-of-the-art library, set to break ground in the spring and be completed in 2017, was designed by architect Steven Holl.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

“The great struggle of a neighborhood like this which has buildings going up by the day and thousands of people moving in, is making sure the infrastructure keeps up,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris, who provided $500,000 in state funding for the library. “To be able to say…we are going to have this landmark that people will look at from Manhattan and be jealous of is a testament to all the hard work that everyone has been doing.”

The 21,500-square-foot facility will feature a reading garden, rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, a performance space and a children’s area. It will overlook the Manhattan skyline across the East River.

“It will absolutely be the best view of any library in Queens. We are excited to see that start to rise and to know that we are providing a new library for this community that so desperately wants and needs it,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of the Queens Library. “The library is in a great place for 2015 and beyond and projects like this really show how we can come together with our communities to provide what you need in a library.”

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Four top Queens Library execs out in the wake of director’s firing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Just a month after the former director of the Queens Library was fired from his post, four of his top deputies have now followed him out the door amid a reshuffling of the library’s executive staff.

Tom Galante was bumped from his $392,000-a-year post last month by the library’s board. Galante, through his lawyer, has said he will file a lawsuit charging that the board did not have cause to dismiss him.

Turnover of the top staff continued this week with the resignations of Vice President and General Counsel Darlene Askew-Robinson, Vice President for Information Technology Lisa Epps, Vice President for Human Resources Angelica Huynh-Rivera and Vice President for Capital Projects Frank Geneese.

Library spokeswoman Joanne King declined to identify the departing staffers or any other details of the changes at the top that were reported by the Daily News. But King did release prepared comments about staffing changes from the library’s interim president, Bridget Quinn-Carey.

“Queens Library has entered into a new era. We are creating a new culture of openness and transparency, while continuing the library’s legacy of customer service. A change in direction often requires a change in administration; this was necessary in order for the library to move forward.”

She went on to say, “2015 will be a year of rebuilding and team building. Along with the board, elected officials and other stakeholders, the people of Queens can look forward to the best Queens Library ever,” Quinn-Carey said.

The library was the subject of scathing press reports last year over Galante’s salary, benefits, outside employment and renovation of the executive staff offices, including construction of a smoking deck.

The reports led to Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Melinda Katz dismissing six members of the library board last year. Former board members have criticized the moves and defended Galante for his record of operating a library that has received numerous awards, nationally and internationally.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer last year joined the battle over the library’s management. He went to court to force the library — technically not a city agency even though 85 percent of its funding comes from City Hall — to open its books so he could conduct an audit.

“I applaud Bridget Quinn-Carey for taking a big broom and doing a clean sweep at the Queens Library,” Stringer said in a statement. “Taxpayers deserve a management team who puts the public’s interest first. I look forward to working with my fellow board trustees and the library’s new leadership as we restore the Queens Library to its rightful place as one of the nation’s premier public library systems.”

Backers of Galante, including several former board members who were booted from their posts by Katz, had defended the former director and said the controversy was sparked by union reaction to his attempts to rein in spending and privatize a small number of janitorial jobs.

They had insisted that Galante’s spending, including credit cards used for travel and other expenses, were all authorized by the board.

If Galante can prove in court that he was fired without cause, he could be owed as much as five years’ salary under the terms of his contract.

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Renovated library opens in Rosedale


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Donovan Richards

BY ROSS BELSKY

After an eight-month renovation, the Rosedale branch of the Queens Library has reopened on schedule and under budget.

The renovation project’s highlights include modern rooftop heating, ventilated and air-conditioned temperature control, and energy-efficient lighting. The new comfort is accentuated by general interior improvements and spring cleaning.

Initially, Councilman Donovan Richards allocated $1 million for the project, but only $575,000 was used. Queens Library Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said of Richards, “He has made a great investment in the community.” Richards thanked the Department of Design and Construction for working in such a timely manner.

“Public libraries are a vital part of the cultural fabric of our city,” Richards said. “The recent renovation of Rosedale Library gave me an opportunity to fulfill a promise to expand the capacity of our libraries so that they can serve an even wider portion of the public. I would like to thank Queens Library and DDC for working to bring these upgrades to the library patrons in such a timely and professional manner.”

Since April 30, a mobile library bus provided service in Rosendale every Wednesday. Finally, on Dec. 22, a ribbon cutting marked the official re-opening of the building.

“Adding a new HVAC system, brand-new acoustic ceiling panels and lighting fixtures will ensure a building that is more than 50 years old can operate more efficiently and continue to be a valuable resource for the Rosedale community for decades to come,” Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Pena-Mora said.

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Axed Queens Library director will sue for wrongful termination


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Update 4:30 p.m.

It’s the end of Tom Galante‘s chapter as director of the Queens Library.

The institution’s board of trustees fired Galante during a meeting Wednesday night—prompting his lawyer to say Thursday that he will be suing for breach of contract.

“This evening, the board of trustees heard a report by counsel. Based on that and a prior report by counsel, a decision was made to terminate immediately Mr. Galante’s employment,” a statement from the library said. “As the library moves forward, the board of trustees will continue working to ensure greater transparency and the proper administration of the library and its funds in furtherance of its mission. Queens Library will continue to provide outstanding value to the people of Queens.”

In September the board voted to suspend Galante, appointing Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, to carry out his duties. He continued to collect his $392,000 annual salary while on administrative leave.

According to the resolution voted on by the board, Galante was fired with cause. Library officials would not specify what constituted cause in his case.

Galante is looking to sue for breach of contract, although nothing has been filed yet, according to Hillary Zilz Prudlo, whose firm Sclam Stone & Dolan is representing Galante.

If Galante can prove in court that the board did not have cause to fire him, he could be due five years’ salary under the terms of his contract—nearly $2 million.

In September, the board voted  to open its books for the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, to perform an audit on all financial data from the library, which receives 85 percent of its funding from taxpayer money but is not officially a city agency or department.

In a statement released on Wednesday Stringer said Galante’s termination was “long overdue.”

“Transparency and proper controls are the cornerstones of good nonprofit governance. My office is currently conducting comprehensive audits of all three New York City library systems. Separately, in my capacity as an ex-officio trustee at the Queens Library, we have already begun working with the board to strengthen internal controls to ensure greater transparency,” he said. 

Galante has been under fire since a series of media reports revealing the renovation of his office that included a $27,000 outdoor deck and expenses he rang up on a library credit card during his time as library director.

Earlier this week, Joseph Ficalora, CEO of NY Community Bank and past president of the Queens Library Foundation Board, told The Courier that the expenses Galante made during his time as library director were not “inappropriate” and had all been approved by the board.

Ficalora was one of the six Queens Library trustees dismissed by Borough President Melinda Katz in July. Mayor Bill de Blasio fired two, and two others resigned. Four new trustees have since been appointed.

Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated. Last month, a federal judge granted the request of the former trustees to dismiss their lawsuit that challenged Katz’s decision to remove them from the board.

“Tonight’s action further restores public faith and trust in the management of the Queens Library,” Katz said in a statement following Galante’s termination. “The reformed board of trustees continues to move the library in the right direction consistent with its educational purpose.”

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Former Queens Library trustee defends Tom Galante’s reported expenses


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

One of the six Queens Library trustees dismissed by the borough president has stepped out to defend the expenses by suspended library chief Tom Galante, who could potentially face being fired at a board meeting scheduled for Wednesday night.

Joseph Ficalora, CEO of NY Community Bank and past president of the Queens Library Foundation Board, told The Queens Courier that the expenses Galante made during his time as library director were not “inappropriate” and had all been approved by the board.

According to the NY Daily News, Galante had been using funds “like a personal piggy bank” before being suspended in September, based on a preliminary review of library finances by city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Some of the credit card charges that Galante rang up included dinners with groups of library trustees, concert tickets and various hotel charges while the library chief was on out-of-town library business.

However, according to Ficalora, the expenses that are being reported had all been approved by the board and were consistent to those of others who held Galante’s position. He also added that six of the board members who had approved the expenses are still on the board.

“This was nothing that they didn’t know and the board members that are still sitting knew this and there was nothing about the expenses that were inappropriate,” Ficalora said.

He also said that other reports that brought up international trips Galante took were a “miscarriage of justice” because he had been traveling around the world as the ambassador of the library and also to accept awards on the library’s behalf.

“These activities were board-approved and consistent with the library having earned awards,” Ficalora said. “Tom was invited to speak at world-class events because of the world recognition and awards the Queens Library was receiving. None of those expenses were inappropriate and they were all approved by the board.”

In regards to the “fine dining,” Ficalora added that these meals have been typical for library directors for decades and they took place to discuss library business such as new programs or any problems.

Galante was suspended in September and his duties have since been carried out by Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

In July, Borough President Melinda Katz fired six trustees and Mayor Bill de Blasio fired two. Two others resigned. Four new trustees have since been appointed.

Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated. However, two weeks ago a federal judge granted the request of the former trustees to dismiss their lawsuit that challenged Katz’s decision to remove them from the board.

According to one of the lawyers representing the former trustees, the lawsuit was dismissed because the former trustees did not have the financial ability and emotional willpower to pursue the lawsuit.

A special meeting of the board of trustees will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Robert T. Groh Board Room at the Central Library, located at 89-11 Merrick Blvd. According to sources, the election of officers might be taking place during the meeting.

In addition, the Audit Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. and the Finance & Investments Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m.

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Queens Chamber celebrates winners of annual building awards


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted its 99th annual Building Awards on Thursday, recognizing architecture and design of new buildings around the borough.

Out of 100 total entries, just 19 new construction, interior and rehabilitated use projects were selected as winners from various categories, including public use, office space, commercial and residential.

City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod was the keynote speaker at the event in the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel. The Chamber’s President’s Award was given to College Point-based developer Mattone Group.

In terms of new construction, the modern, glassy, three-story commercial building by K.O.H. Architecture at 215-15 Northern Blvd. in Bayside was among the winners. The building is home to a Tiger Schulmann, a Pizza Hut and a day care.

Plaza College’s newly opened campus in the Forest Hills near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike was among winners in the rehabilitative use category. The school moved following a devastating fire that destroyed its Jackson Heights campus at 74-09 37th Ave. The new campus serves 750 students and features labs and medical classrooms.

Mediterranean and soul food fusion restaurant Pa-Nash of Rosedale, which opened in April, was also a winner in the rehabilitative use category, as well as the Queens Library’s redesign of the teen space in the Cambria Heights branch.

Pa-Nash 3

Below is the full list of winners.

 

New Construction

Category                                                         Project

Schools                                                            Public School 330Q

Commercial                                                     215-15 Northern Blvd., Bayside

Office Buildings                                             Jackson Heights Office Building

Multi-Family, Low Rise

(up to 3 stories)                                               Xiaoyan Jin Residence

 

Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft.)              Grippi Residence

 

Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Vaccaro Residence

 

Multi-Family, High Rise

(4 or more stories)                                           Multi-Family Residential Building

Mixed Use

(residential/commercial/industrial)                  Antonelli Building

 

Rehabilitation, Readaptive Use, Alteration or Addition

Category                                                         Project

Public Buildings                                             Queens Library @Cambria Heights-Teen Space

Colleges                                                          Plaza College

Schools                                                            P.S. 81Q

Commercial                                                     Pa-Nash Restaurant & Lounge

Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft)               Annie Hsu Residence

 

Interiors

Category                                                         Project

Colleges                                              Queens College Rosenthal Library

Commercial                                                     Murphy’s Lobster Grill

Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Long Residence

 

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Queens Library now loaning mobile hot spots


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Queens residents have a new way to connect on the go, and all they need is a library card.

Mobile hot spots are currently available for loan at select Queens Library locations. The devices, which are smaller than most cell phones, provide Internet access to any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, in almost any location.

First-time users will just need to show a photo ID and fill out an agreement to borrow the device. They are available on loan for one month at a time and can be renewed up to three times.

Library card holders can pick up the hot spots at branch locations at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; and 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills. They also will be available at Queens Library in Flushing, at 41-17 Main St., on Dec. 5, and at the Jackson Heights branch, at 35-51 81st St., on Dec. 12.

The library locations lending the devices are also lending free Google tablets. Google’s $1 million donation, along with a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation, made the hot spot program possible, according to the library.

“Far too many New Yorkers do not have regular access to the Internet, and as a result find themselves excluded from a wealth of education, employment and community resources,” said Ben Fried, Google’s chief information officer. “This innovative program to loan hotspots to low-income households is a simple, effective way to help those who need broadband and technology the most. With this donation of $1 million and W-Fi-enabled Chromebooks, Google hopes to give some of the most underserved in our city a way to bridge the tech divide.”

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Six ways to give back to Queens for Thanksgiving


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ShelterMealHC1311_X_300_C_Y

BY PAULINA TAM

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Is it a roof over your head or daily hot meals? Use the Nov. 27 festivities to lend a helping hand by giving back to the community. Listed below are volunteer opportunities where you can participate.

1. The Daily News and City Harvest are collaborating this holiday season from Oct. 21 to Jan. 16 to collect nonperishable food and keep the local food pantries’ cupboards filled in their “Daily News Food Drive.” Their goal for this season is to raise 1 million pounds of food. Queens drop-off locations include the Steinway Goodwill Store at 32-36 Steinway St. and the Van Dam Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. Visit www.cityharvest.org/dailynews to find out more Queens locations.

2. Although volunteer opportunities by Food Bank NYC and New York Cares for the holiday season fill up fast, there are always vacant but competitive positions still up for grabs. Prepare dinner at a local pantry or go on food deliveries throughout Queens. Events are updated daily. Register on www.foodbanknyc.org or www.newyorkcares.org now to secure your holiday volunteer placement. Please note New York Cares does require new registrants to attend a one-hour orientation.

3. The New York City Department of Education annually partners up with Citymeals-on-Wheels for their handmade greeting cards. Schoolchildren are invited to break out their crayons and markers and craft a greeting card that will be handed out alongside a free meal for those homebound during the holiday season. In 2012 alone, 57,187 handmade holiday cards designed by children in private and public schools were distributed. Visit www.citymeals.org/food-for-thought/handmade-greeting-cards to learn more.

4. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens have various ongoing food pantries happening in churches in Queens. Some of the churches include Our Lady of the Angelus at Rego Park and St. Rose of Lima at Far Rockaway. Pantry times and dates vary. Visit www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/parish-community-services to contact a church near to you to assist with any food distribution. Last year, over one million meals were handed out to over 115,000 people throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

5. Have a gently used coat that you no longer need that is just sitting in your closet? The 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive is kicking off on Nov. 17. Call your local Queens Library branch, NYPD and FDNY precincts to see if they are participating in the drive, and drop off a coat to help those in need keep warm this holiday season.

6. Nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia of Rego Park will be handing out food to the hungry on Thanksgiving during their regular hours. Dining hours will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and the food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Packages of free food will be made available to guests after they are done with their hot meal during dinner service. Masbia is located at 98-08 Queens Blvd.

Visit www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-queens or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org for a full listing of food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks active during Thanksgiving in Queens where you can volunteer and donate nonperishable food items. Pantry and kitchen times and dates vary. Call individual locations to find out appropriate times to line up for first-come, first-served food distribution.

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Vote for your favorite Queens library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

It’s time to show your neighborhood library some love.

As of Friday, nominations from the public are being accepted for the second annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards.

The awards, held by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation, honor library branches in the city’s three library systems including the Queens Library.

After receiving nominations from community members, five libraries will be chosen as winners and announced during the award ceremony in May 2015. Each branch will be awarded $20,000.

“Every day, New Yorkers enter their neighborhood libraries to seek the riches of the information age, available to everyone and all for free,” said Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. “These awards celebrate the love New Yorkers have for their libraries.”

Nominations, which are being accepted through Dec. 12, can be submitted at www.nyclibraryawards.org, through each library’s website or in person at any neighborhood library.

The winning branches will be selected by a panel of judges, including authors Jonathan Safran Foer and Jacqueline Woodson, and children’s book publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel.

“Neighborhood libraries in New York City are the center of many of our communities,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “They welcome all New Yorkers and provide vital opportunities to learn, educate, reflect – and better ourselves.”

The inaugural NYC Neighborhood Library Awards brought in more than 4,300 nominations and one of last year’s winners included Corona Library, located on 38-17 104th St., which received $10,000.

Let us know which Queens Library branch is your favorite by commenting below.

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Queens Library in Flushing starts lending Google Nexus tablets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

One year after it first started the program, Queens Library will now lend Google Nexus tablets at its Flushing branch at 41-17 Main St.

The library has been lending the Google tablets for free from many of its other branches since November 2013. A library member needs to show only their Queens Library card in order to borrow a tablet for a month, with three possible renewals. If it’s the first time the library member is borrowing a tablet, they also have to sign an agreement and provide photo ID.

The Queens Library has installed its custom proprietary software in the Nexus tablets it lends in order to make it easy for members who have no experience in using technology to interface with the device. The tablets also come loaded with educational content, feature content, book lists and offline access to e-books and magazines.

The library began its tablet-lending program after Superstorm Sandy. Google, as part of its efforts to help Sandy-affected areas, donated 17,000 tablets. The Queens Library received 5,000 of those devices and began customizing them to suit their members’ needs.

The initiative won the Queens Library the 2014 Best Practices Award, given by the New York Library Association’s Public Libraries Section every two years to a public library or public library system that uses technology to promote its services.

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Take a first look at new interior of Sandy-wrecked Peninsula library as construction is set to begin soon


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Queens Library

The long chapter of devastation is coming to an end for the Peninsula library in Rockaway Beach.

The building on Beach 92nd Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard was “the hardest hit” library in the borough by Hurricane Sandy, according to a Queens Library spokeswoman, and has yet to reopen after nearly two years.

Service has been operating out of a trailer since January 2013, but officials are securing permits and bids to complete reconstruction and hope to open the library by early 2015.

“Beginning to rebuild the permanent library was delayed while we worked with FEMA and the city to establish how to proceed,” a representative for the library said. “Since this library had been scheduled for a complete redesign and renovation prior to the storm, we are taking this opportunity to present the community with a greatly enhanced library.”

The rebuilt library will include a larger multipurpose room for public use, which will allow for community events and meetings even if the library is closed.

There will also be a new adult reading area, children’s room and teen area with furniture and computers. Modern customer service equipment will be added, including exterior machines to return books at any time. And a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be added throughout the building as well.

Adult reading area

Officials expect the Department of Buildings to issue permits in a matter of weeks making way for reconstruction to begin.

The Queens Library is collecting bids until Oct. 6 for a contractor to provide mechanical, plumbing and flood barrier renovation work, according to city documents.

In June, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced that he secured more than $700,000 through the Public Library Construction Grant Program to help renovate the Ozone Park library and the Peninsula library. Goldfeder said $582,654 was awarded to the Peninsula library reconstruction.

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Queens Library launches ‘Where In Queens’ website


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via whereinqueens.org

BY ECLEEN CARABALLO

At times the question isn’t “what do we need?” but “where can we find it?” and “how soon can we have it?”

On Thursday, Queens Library’s vice president of digital strategies and services, Kelvin Watson, and the CEO of Zendesk, Mikkel Svane, launched the “Where in Queens” website to meet those needs and provide simple answers.

The “Where in Queens” app and website is a mobile-optimized portal which aims to connect users with social services closest to where they are. Specifically, it provides information regarding shelter, food, medical, legal, technology and education.

The local services, which include emergency housing, health care and food pantries, are geared toward assisting the underprivileged community, and all of the services are tailored specifically to meet the needs of Queens residents. This new and seemingly useful website was described by Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey as “the next generation” of their former award-wining Community Resources Database created in the late 1990s.

LinkSF, the first mobile website to connect homeless people with lifesaving services, was the basis and inspiration for Mikkel and his team and Zendesk when it came to creating “Where In Queens.”

The website is accessible to any Internet-connected device, including mobile phones, and can be found at www.whereinqueens.org. For more information on the services it has available, visit the Queens Library website at www.queenslibrary.org.

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Queens Library struggling from space constraints, report says


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

Increasing space for users at Queens Library branches could begin a new chapter in its history, after a new study found most locations are struggling from space constraints.

The news comes days after the library’s CEO Tom Galante was suspended by the board of trustees, following a series of published reports revealing his nearly $400,000 salary, benefits, and erection of a smoking deck outside his office in Central Library, while making employee cuts.

The Center for an Urban Future released Monday the Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries report, which said 41 of the library’s 62 branches are under 10,000 square feet and struggling to meet the demands of its increasing membership. Queens had the most branches under that size in the five boroughs. Brooklyn came in second with 26 branches.

About 11.2 million people visited Queens Library branches in fiscal year 2014, according to statistics on the library’s website, and there were 929,000 active borrowers. The problem isn’t a need to repair libraries but adjust the layout, according to the report.

“It’s not just that so many New York City libraries are old and in a state of disrepair, many are not configured to meet the needs of today’s users,” the study said. “Designed around their book collections, many devote a majority of their layouts to shelves and rooms for book processing.”

The report specifically identified the Fresh Meadows library branch as one of the more well-attended branches in the city, but only has 8,700 square feet of space. That branch and the Far Rockaway, Lefferts, Rego Park and Sunnyside locations are five of the 10 “highest performing branches citywide” that are in need of more space.

“These well-attended branches would undoubtedly attract significantly more patrons for programs if they had more space for them,” the report said.

But some libraries just don’t have enough seating, such as the Jackson Heights branch, which has more than 375,000 annual visitors, but can only seat 78 people.

In its defense, Interim Queens Library President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said that the library is currently engaging in many projects to expand its branches and meet its vast membership.

“Over the past several years, elected officials in Queens have done a great job of allocating funds to help Queens Library upgrade and maintain its facilities,” Quinn-Carey said. “As the report suggests, there is still so much more that we could be doing for the community if we had the space in which to do it. We look forward to working with public funders to establish a rational, forward-looking capital funding plan that gives libraries the resources they need to plan important capital investments.”

On a positive note, Queens has the newest libraries, according to the report. The borough ranks youngest in age, with the average library at just 47 years old. Manhattan is first with an average age of 84 years old. Also, six of the 15 new libraries in the past 20 years were branches in Queens.

Click here to read the full report.

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Board suspends Queens Library President Tom Galante


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The Queens Library has shelved its president.

The library’s board of trustees voted Thursday night to suspend embattled library boss Tom Galante.

Galante will continue to collect his $392,000 annual salary while on administrative leave, library officials said.

His duties will be carried out by Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“Queens Library has a critical mission to provide information and education. It has long been a model of excellence, “ Quinn-Carey said in a statement.  “I look forward to working with the board of trustees, our elected officials and colleagues at all levels of the organization, including our union, to build on the library’s outstanding work. There are 2.3 million people depending on it.”

Galante declined to comment on Friday.

The board also voted to open its books for the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, to perform an audit on all financial data from the library, which receives 85 percent of its funding from taxpayer money.

Galante and the board, which has seen 10 trustees removed or resigned, had refused to surrender the information relying on a decades-old agreement with the city that allowed the comptroller to audit only that portion of the budget that came from public funds.

That dispute, as well as a revelation in the Daily News that Galante was earning a hefty wage moonlighting for the Elmont school district, sent lawmakers into action, granting the borough president and mayor the power to remove board members for cause. Galante has also been under fire after the renovation of his office that included a $27,000 outdoor deck was revealed.

In July, Borough President Melinda Katz fired six trustees and Mayor Bill de Blasio canned two.  Two others resigned.  Four new trustees have since been appointed.

Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated.  They were unsuccessful in getting an injunction to prevent their permanent removal, which became official after Katz rejected their appeals.  The suit, which also demands monetary damages from Katz, is pending in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Katz lauded the board’s decision, saying that it would allow them to “take immediate steps to improve the Queens Library’s governance and increase the transparency of its operations.”

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Hollis library closing temporarily


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

BY ECLEEN CARABALLO 

The Queens Library’s Hollis branch, at 202-05 Hillside Ave., will be closing temporarily, starting at the end of business on Sept. 12, for a new roof installation.

The library will re-open at the end of the renovation period, which is expected to be in November.

In the meantime, there will be limited service through a mobile library every Monday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. In addition, customers are encouraged to use any of Queens Library’s other locations. The closest branches are located in Queens Village (94-11 217 St.), Hillcrest (187-05 Union Tpke.), and Windsor Park (79-50 Bell Blvd.).

For additional information, visit www.queenslibrary.org.

 

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