Ten Library Finalists Announced in Annual “Oscars of Libraries,” Vying for Top Honors and $20,000 Prize

Record-Breaking 24,000 New Yorkers Nominated their Beloved Branches for This Year’s NYC Neighborhood Library Awards

 New Perennial Excellence Award Launched, Recognizing Consistently Outstanding Branches Over the Years

New York, NY – June 1, 2017 –The Fourth Annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, honoring the city’s exceptional public libraries, announced the ten finalists today that are poised to win a $20,000 prize. The finalists are: Allerton Library, Edenwald Library and Hunts Point Library from the Bronx; Queens Library at Bayside, Queens Library at Lefferts and Queens Library at Woodside from Queens; Chatham Square Library and George Bruce Library from Manhattan and Crown Heights Library and New Utrecht Library from Brooklyn.

Known as the “Oscars of Libraries,” the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards recognizes and rewards public libraries for being irreplaceable pillars of their communities, offering a welcoming and safe environment, and free programs and services – all while on a tight budget. The awards, an initiative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation, will culminate in an announcement of the winners in October. A panel of judges will select the top five winners for a $20,000 prize and the remaining finalists will receive $10,000.

This year, an outpouring of library love amounted to a record-breaking 24,000 nominations for the awards, an increase of more than 30 percent from last year. New Yorkers from all five boroughs wrote about their appreciation for local libraries, including heartwarming stories about librarians who went the extra mile, made patrons feel like family members, and helped people improve their lives. Many patrons shared how they’ve been going to their local libraries since childhood and are now bringing their children, while others shared how libraries were their first stop after immigrating to the U.S., providing vital English classes, books, and job readiness skills.

Due to an overwhelmingly positive response from patrons, the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards added the new Perennial Excellence Award to recognize libraries that have been consistently stellar over the years. Returning for its second year, the Heckscher Foundation for Children will once again award the Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth to one additional library branch that has proven their commitment to this City’s youth through special programs, classes, and events. The winner of this award will also receive a prize of $20,000 to spend on their branch.

One common theme in the nominations this year was the outstanding programming and services neighborhood branches provide in the face of serious maintenance and infrastructure challenges from chronic roof leaks to faulty air conditioners to inaccessible spaces.  This year’s finalists’ capital needs total more than $40.7 million, including $2.4 million for Allerton Library, $9 million for Edenwald Library, $13.2 million for Queens Library at Bayside, $905,000 for Queens Library at Lefferts, $7.2 million for Queens Library at Woodside, $3 million for Chatham Square Library, $67,500 for George Bruce Library and $4.9 million for Crown Heights Library.

Below are the 10 finalists, accompanied by excerpts from nominations:

  • Allerton Library (Allerton, Bronx) – One teen wrote about BridgeUp, an afterschool program for high school students: “For once I felt a part of something … the library has helped me find myself with well-thought out activities and programs.”
  • Queens Library at Bayside (Bayside, Queens) – Lifelong patron Daniela stated: “My mother would bring my siblings and I multiple times a week for programs and activities that have had a tremendous impact on my life. It not only made me realize what a love I have for literature and the arts, but helped me socialize as a shy child with a diverse and kind population. Now, 24 years later, I am welcomed as more than just a community member, but a family member.”
  • Chatham Square Library (Chinatown, Manhattan) – Teri, an immigrant and former neighborhood resident stated: “This is the library I have been going to since I was 10 years old as a new immigrant without knowing any English. At first, it was a resource center for Chinese language books, newspaper and magazines for me and my family. Now, I am a parent with 2 young children and I have come full circle to return to this library to get Chinese books to teach my kids Chinese language. Without this library, I wouldn’t have retained my Chinese language, nor improved my English.”
  • Crown Heights Library (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) – 13-year-old Sara shared: “I have been coming to the Crown Heights Library since I was seven years old. This library is my favorite place, where I can come anytime and in any mood and always find something to cheer me up and make me happy. This library is shaping who I am, and I truly don’t know who I’d be without it.”
  • Edenwald Library (Edenwald, Bronx) – A neighborhood resident, immigrant and library staff member wrote: “This library has transformed my life. As immigrants to America, the library meant everything to us. I polished my reading and writing skills at the library. The library filled in all the gaps and helped me greatly. I landed a job with the library. Got a scholarship to go for my Masters at St. Johns University. My neighborhood library made all this possible.”
  • George Bruce Library (Morningside Heights, Manhattan) – Mara, a parent, stated: “From story hour to open play to art classes to readings with authors and illustrators, the library staff goes above and beyond to help instill a love of reading and books in the children that utilize the library…By partnering with places like the Studio Museum, the George Bruce Library brings art based programming to children who might not be able to access it elsewhere. Private enrichment and art classes for children are incredibly expensive, the GB Library ensures that any child in our neighborhood can participate in unique and robust programs for free!”
  • Hunts Point Library (Hunts Point, Bronx) – Larry, a lifelong patron, shared: “The library has always been a second home to me. A place where I could actually visit almost seven days a week that was a safe haven for me as a child, an adult and now a parent…This library is strong on tutoring and educational development…I love the Hunts Points Library and so does my entire community.”
  • Queens Library at Lefferts (Richmond Hill, Queens) – A neighborhood patron shared: “For 20 years I have been coming to this library. I feel safe here, and with Unchained [LGBTQ] support meetings I now have a safe space to be myself.”
  • New Utrecht Library (New Utrecht, Brooklyn) – Library volunteer, neighborhood resident, parent and retiree Sonia stated: “In keeping with the times, our library has skillfully adapted to the change in demographics by modifying and adding events, classes and programs to embrace our new residents. The New Utrecht Library has provided an educational and welcoming space for cultural exchanges. New Utrecht Library has truly brought our diversified community together as one.”
  • Queens Library at Woodside (Woodside, Queens) – Bob, a neighborhood patron stated: “One day I saw a patron in a wheelchair in tears because the elevator was out of order and she couldn’t get to the second floor to attend the Korean Class. When the staff found this out, they immediately discussed it with the Korean teacher and suggested to move the class to the ground floor so the person in a wheelchair could attend the class. It shows that the staff there really care for their patrons.”

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!