Finalists Announced for Third Annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, Honoring City’s Exceptional Public Libraries

A Record 19,000 Nominations Yield Ten Finalists For Shot At $20,000 Prize

New Heckscher Foundation Award Will Recognize Library with Outstanding Children’s Programming 

New York, NY April 12, 2016 – The “Oscars of libraries” announced today the ten finalists for its third awards season. The NYC Neighborhood Library Awards recognize and reward public libraries for being the unsung heroes of New York – places where all are welcome, the programs and resources are free, and the librarians are making it all happen on a shoestring budget.

A group of eminent judges will pick five winning branches for the $20,000 prize. The remaining finalists will receive $10,000 each.  Winners will be announced in June.  The awards are an initiative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

The awards generated approximately 19,000 nominations from library users. The remarkable response – up more than 40 percent from last year’s nominations– underscores the vital role that libraries play in our city and reveals the many ways in which libraries support New Yorkers in their daily lives.

Also, in a new twist this year, the Heckscher Foundation for Children will be awarding the Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth to one additional outstanding library branch that has proven their commitment to this City’s youth through special programs, classes and events. The winner of this award, to be announced with the other winners at the June awards ceremony, will also receive a prize of $20,000 to spend on their branch.

The ten finalists, accompanied by excerpts from nominations, are:

  • Aguilar Library – East Harlem (Manhattan) – Afrah, a college graduate and lifelong neighborhood resident wrote: “Throughout high school and college, having a limited income and not being able to afford books, this branch helped me overcome that setback. Statistics show that I could have been a high school dropout, chances are my life could be much worse….if it were not for my thirst of knowledge and my passion for reading, it really is hard to say what my life could have been.”
  • Arverne Library – Arverne (Queens) –John, a neighborhood resident, husband and parent, stated: “Arverne Library goes out of their way to make us feel comfortable and the kids love going there after school. It means a lot to us that we can send our kids somewhere we feel they are safe and the staff knows them. We are disabled so it means a lot to us. It is like an extended family.”
  • Dyker Library– Dyker Heights (Brooklyn) –Patricia, a library volunteer, stated: “One of the most uplifting and moving experiences I had when witnessing a staff member patiently and kindly teach an 85 year-old man – a novice who never used a computer before – how to access the internet and set up his very first email account. That moment is but one example exemplifying why the Dyker Branch is so valuable to this neighborhood – beyond the practical, some residents have their world opened up because of the quality of services provided there.”
  • Far Rockaway Library – Far Rockaway (Queens) – Betty, a neighborhood resident, stated: “After Hurricane Sandy, it became a beam of light for the public. We held meetings there, we looked for jobs there, we consoled each other there, we used the internet and so many more things that others took for granted. Since Hurricane Sandy, it has become more relevant because the employees embraced the public and a “Work Force Center” had been established at this site. It became such a hit that it had to be moved to a larger place.”
  • Fort Washington Library – Washington Heights (Manhattan) –A recent retiree and neighborhood resident stated: “As a recent retiree the library is my source of helping my mind [stay] sharp and alert. My weekly visit is something I look forward to. There are no book stores in this area of Manhattan. Access to periodicals and newly released books is a refreshing welcome.”
  • Glen Oaks Library – Glen Oaks (Queens) – An immigrant and neighborhood resident stated: “The Queens library at Glen Oaks gave me my first taste of books. I moved to this country when I was 9 and I learned English by checking out books after books from this library. I have been going to this library for nearly two decades and the staff members and the services have been impeccable.”
  • Inwood Library – Inwood (Manhattan) – Sophie, a library volunteer and parent, stated: “The Inwood Library is always involved in the community, making its programs known, catering to both English, Spanish speakers, and beyond! When I approached the library about starting a new francophone toddler reading hour, the branch manager welcome me, partnered me with a tenured volunteer, and a library staff member has been working diligently to build the francophone children’s section!”
  • Kings Bay Library– Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn) – Asya, a senior citizen and neighborhood resident stated: “All in all, you can come to this library at opening time and leave it with the last employee, having enjoyed a useful and interesting day. One cannot find a better remedy for depression, illness, and loneliness… I want to thank the library staff with all my heart.”
  • Morrisania Library – South Bay (Bronx) – A parent and community group member stated: “This library has a great computer class. I was completely computer illiterate and this library has taught me to have confidence in my new found skills. I also like the bilingual class and parent child classes. I think this library deserves the money in every way possible.”
  • Sunset Park – Sunset Park (Brooklyn) – Daniela, a student, immigrant, and neighborhood resident stated: “I’m from Dominican Republic, and I moved in New York in 2008. One of the best places for me and my brother to get resources, as new residents and immigrants, was the Sunset Park Library. Here we attended ESL classes, we used to come for computer classes and to use the internet to communicate with the rest of our family in DR. I thank God because my life can be enriched by having more learning experiences with all the books and services at the Sunset Park Library.”

Click here to read our press release and find out more about the finalists!

Click here to listen to the Brian Lehrer Show segment announcing the finalists!