The Charles H. Revson Foundation last night announced the five winners of the first-ever NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, the culmination of an initiative that resulted in 4,310 nominations from New Yorkers. The five winning libraries,each of which received $10,000 at an awards ceremony in midtown Manhattan, were selected from 10 finalists by a distinguished panel of judges: R.L. Stine, author of the renowned Goosebumps series; Kurt Andersen, author and host of WNYC’s Studio 360; Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and former president of the American Library Association; Fatima Shama, NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs; and Don Weisberg, President of the Penguin Young Readers Group. The nomination process took place during a six-week period this summer and was promoted publicly with the crucial assistance of WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, the media partner for this initiative. You can listen to the managers of the winning branches discuss their work with Brian Lehrer here.
“These five libraries are truly outstanding and reflect the extraordinarily important role that neighborhood libraries play in communities all across the city,” said Julie Sandorf, President of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. “It was especially moving to see, throughout the entire selection process, the passion of the nominators and their gratitude for the often life-changing contributions of the neighborhood library.”
The five winning libraries – and an excerpt from the nominations for each – follow:
- Corona Library – North Corona (Queens) – “There is a line around the corner of neighborhood residents before the branch opens! People use it for ESOL, homework help after school, internet access, and of course access to books. It is a trusted and safe place where all folks regardless of socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds can come.”
- Macon Library – Bedford-Stuyvesant/Stuyvesant Heights (Brooklyn) – “I have found this library as a safe haven and opportunity to know more about my roots. The African American Heritage Center is amazing and I feel like I’ve discovered a part of myself here.”
- New Dorp Library – New Dorp/Midland Beach (Staten Island) – “When we came to this country, my elder daughter was 4 years old. During her first years of school, her reading level was very low. Now my daughter is in fourth grade. This year she was the super-reader of the school. If we didn’t have the library perhaps my daughter’s progress would not be the same.”
- Seward Park Library – Lower East Side (Manhattan) – “My father reads Chinese Newspaper everyday there. The rich collection in Chinese literacy helped him a lot when he first arrived in New York from Beijing. Many of my classmates from the library’s English classes have found better jobs, got citizenships or entered college after several terms’ training.”
- Sheepshead Bay Library – Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn) – “Last fall I was able to overcome my psychological stress caused by Hurricane Sandy only thanks to Sheepshead Bay Library. Those workshops helped me to come back to myself and get back to my daily routines and reality as a human being.”