Tag Archives: Thomas Galante

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.


Library expansion breaks ground in memory of Queens activist

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Their eyes looking to the skies in memory of a lost beloved leader, elected officials drove their golden shovels into the dirt to break ground on a long-anticipated library expansion project.

“It feels so good to be standing here today, knowing that construction is beginning,” said Queens Library President Thomas Galante at the Friday, April 19 ceremony.

The $10 million renovation project at the Kew Gardens Hills Library was a longtime pet project of Pat Dolan, a Queens activist who was struck and killed by a car last November. She was 72.

“Her memory lives on,” Galante said. “The library she loved so much is now officially located on Pat Dolan Way, and this [expansion] will be her legacy to the community. We will always know she is looking on.”

There will be an extra 3,000 square feet of space when the branch at 72-33 Pat Dolan Way reopens in 2015, officials said.

The library will also have twice as many computers, a bigger meeting room, an energy-saving roof and larger, separate spaces for adults, teens and children.

“This will be a fantastic library. It’s going to be a great place,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “Libraries are important because they’re full of knowledge. Little children, teenagers, seniors—they’re good for everyone to absorb knowledge.”

The branch closed for construction on February 22. A temporary library is open at 71-34 Main Street, library officials said. Nearby branches are also located in Hillcrest, Briarwood and Pomonok.





OpEd: Queens Library is tops for families

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BOROS; Queens Library Cyber Center #1

By Thomas W. Galante, President and CEO, Queens Library

Families rely on Queens Library to provide a safe, intellectually stimulating place for their children to learn, create and interact with one another for many great reasons. The offerings are better than ever.

Queens Library hosts positive, free programs to engage children and youth every day of the week — 152, in fact, in the coming week alone. These include picture-book and storytelling sessions, sing-alongs, arts and crafts programs, a presentation about bugs as pets, ping-pong, board games, and a “Jeopardy” competition.

Some of these occur on weekends; many are scheduled right after school hours end. We offer homework help to students, reading clubs, even a spelling bee. Our “Mad Science” series lets kids experience science up close and personal with programs on slime, the three states of matter, and optical illusions. All of these activities occur in well-maintained spaces staffed with skilled personnel. All of these activities occur in well-maintained spaces staffed with skilled personnel.

Queens Library offers self-esteem workshops for children and teens, such as an upcoming weekly discussion forum that informs girls ages nine and older about important life skills and healthy development choices. Topics include school success, conflict management, goal setting and financial literacy. The girls will learn positive communication skills and have an opportunity to participate in activities designed to boost their self-esteem and foster positive new friendships.

The Library’s focus on welcoming and engaging children goes beyond programming. A year ago, we opened the Children’s Library Discovery Center in Jamaica. The 14,000-square-foot facility is the only public library in the U.S. to incorporate interactive museum exhibits into a traditional reading-rich library environment and the only free children’s educational destination in New York City with a special emphasis on science, technology, math and engineering.

This cutting-edge children’s facility, which boasts tabletop exhibits designed in partnership with San Francisco’s Exploratorium, has been welcoming young people at a pace of nearly 7,000 a week, hosting more than 384,000 people since it opened in July 2011. Last week, it was honored by the Municipal Art Society, winning its Neighborhood Catalyst Award.

Queens Library also offers the Library for Teens, a 3,000-square-foot former retail store in Far Rockaway, open to young people ages 12 to 19. Staffed by youth counselors, it is stocked with magazines, graphic novels, video games, 40 computers, test-prep materials — even a recording studio. This facility won the 2010 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award, a prestigious statewide honor. A Teen Center with computer games, a collaborative work area and a quiet room is also coming soon to the Central Library in Jamaica.

Queens Library is constantly looking for ways to make our customers safer, in the library and outside of it, particularly in the case of the most vulnerable members of the community. Our Best Out of School Time program was born out of a mandate to provide, safe, academically-driven havens for children between the end of the school day and the end of the workday. We employ homework help monitors and activity assistants specifically for that purpose.

Lawmakers have been discussing proposals to make libraries even stronger and safer. We are in support of legislation that would add children’s rooms in libraries to the list of places off-limits to registered sex offenders. This would give law enforcement a powerful tool with which to protect the innocent, while also allowing the library to remain true to its mission of providing public access to information.

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality services, resources, and lifelong learning opportunities to this diverse borough of 2.3 million people, Queens Library will always be an enriching, welcoming place for all minds to grow.

Elmhurst Library set to double in size

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

After many chapters in its current construction, Elmhurst Library’s story will finally have a new setting.

The library, located at 86-01 Grand Avenue, will be closed effective November 7 and is moving to a temporary facility, located at 85-08 51st Avenue, while a new edifice is built on the existing site.

The original library has stood on Grand Avenue since 1906. Immediately following its initial construction, the building was deemed too small to adequately service the community. The edifice tripled in size during an expansion in 1930, and extensive renovations were also performed in 1965 and 1980.
The modern library, which will cost roughly $27.8 million, is expected to open in 2013. It will feature four levels and will be double the size of the current building.
“A library is one of the greatest resources for people of all ages in any community,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who allocated approximately $23 million in capital funds for the new library. “Here at the Elmhurst Library, thousands of visitors comb its treasure trove of literary, musical, artistic and reference material. Now, it has become a victim of its own success and needs to expand in a new building double the size of the old one.”

Among the facility’s premier attractions will be a Cyber Center with 32 computers, a new Adult Learner Center, an interior reading atrium and front and rear community gardens. There will also be separate reading areas for adults, teens and children.

The modern structure will look towards the future while keeping a respectful eye towards the past by installing “memory features” throughout the building, which are designed to preserve the library’s legacy in the neighborhood. Original bricks will be used in the new façade, and the Children’s Room fireplace will be reinstalled during construction. There will also be a “1906 Memory Wall,” consisting of historical photos of the library and the Elmhurst community.

“Elmhurst is a thriving neighborhood that needs a state-of-the-art library to support education, job growth and intellectual development,” said Thomas Galante, president and CEO of Queens Library. “The current library lends a million books and DVDs a year, which is more than double the volume per square foot of Flushing Library, and Flushing is the busiest library in New York State. The new Queens Library at Elmhurst will be a community hub for generations to come, with its gardens and a wealth of resources.”