Award Winning Library

I am a(n) – Neighborhood resident/Library user/Library staff member /Senior /Teacher

This application is submitted jointly by my colleague, J, and me, A. J and I teach classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) every Monday and Wednesday evening. The free ESL program for local immigrants has been in existence for more than 30 years and is still one of the most vibrant programs at the library.  Thousands of immigrants have received free English lessons at the New Dorp Library. Many of them have been able to help their children in school, further their own education, become more productive members of our society and sometimes even become US citizens.   The student we are most proud of is Adriana Blancarte-Hayward. She enrolled in our ESL program in 2004, entered the workforce in 2005, completed a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Long Island University and is now New Dorp Library’s Branch Manager.

The ESL program is not the only community service the library performs. It also offers a variety of classes such as knitting and crocheting conducted in Spanish and English, book discussion groups in Spanish and English, the Teenage Advisory Group, Introduction to Computers, a Meditation Workshop, Zumba classes and more.  The New Dorp Library services the entire range of patrons from small children to seniors. Its programs are relevant to the lives of all its patrons and are varied and informative. The eleven staff members are trained and encouraged to make their patrons feel at home.

The New Dorp Library has been consistently recognized for its exceptional community service. In 2012, it was cited for the second time in seven years for its community input and service by the New York Public Library’s Board of Trustees. In addition, it received the 2013 Maher-Stern Award as described above. The New Dorp librarians go out into the community on a continual basis. They attend meetings at the local Community Board, the local police precinct and civic associations in New Dorp, Grant City and Midland Beach. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New Dorp Library staff sorted clothes and helped distribute food to community victims at a local relief center and also organized a financial relief workshop in the event room of the library itself.

These are only a few of the examples of the integral role the New Dorp Library plays in the community. The New Dorp Library should receive this award to enhance its ability to remain up-to-date and relevant in an ever-changing environment and to provide new services to the community in the future.

This story was originally a nomination for the My Library NYC Awards. It has been generously provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation.


Service to the Formerly Incarcerated

I got to know this guy in Jamaica who was just back in the neighborhood after doing some time inside. He LOVED the respect and service that we gave him at the library. It meant a lot for him to be treated as a man with dignity. He even told me once that “you and my momma are the only two people keeping me out of trouble right now”


Job Search Help

A lot of employment requires online application. One man was very frustrated to fill out an online form for a shipping/receiving position, similar to a job that he had for years. The customer was frustrated with technology, and initially hard to work with. We were able to fill out the form, and I took the time to call to verify they got it. I learned from that experience that a lot of these skills people perceive everyone has, is not true. And job information/tech services is a huge role for libraries that takes time compared to some traditional reference questions. It’s more emphasis on instruction instead of providing answers.

-Matt Allison

Chat Reference

As a librarian, at Brooklyn Public Library, I have the unique ability to meet library users in person and via different interfaces. I get various questions through our email service and via chat reference. Questions come from Brooklyn, or locations in some of the world remote villages. I answer questions about coins, civilizations, homework help, and directions, almost anything you can think of. Sometimes when answering questions, you’re just not sure of how you’re affecting the life of a user.
I received an interesting query recently from a patron who asked: “What generation do 35-year-olds belong to?” During the course of the interaction I discovered that it was the patron birthday, and the user came to the library for self-discovery. It was then that I realize that the information I was searching for this individual was for personal empowerment, and no other community resource would be able to provide such service, for free, using this platform, and really take the time to respond to their immediate need. We discovered that this individual was on the cusp of two generations: Millennial and Generation X, but it was an eye-opening experience none-the-less. Libraries change lives, and we must recognize that.

-Mrs. Kim E.

Library as Safe Space

The library patron I remember the most was a young teen name K. K was about 14/15 and she wanted to run away from home. I didn’t know how to handle that question. There wasn’t a script for dealing with patrons with such inquiries, but I know she came to the safest place she knew, her neighborhood library. I put my librarian hat on and we talked about resources the library offer, books and websites for dealing with traumatic experiences, and essentially why she felt the need to run away. It was one of the most dynamic interactions I ever had at the reference desk. K still felt like she needed to leave home and ultimately I called the police. I used my best judgment as they are better train in dealing with situations like this. When her parent picked her up at the library, they weren’t aware a problem existed. Needless to say all parties involved agreed that the library was quintessential in connecting this family.

Libraries meet users where they are, and are a gem for the community.

-Mrs. Kim E.


Hurricane Sandy Recovery in the Rockaways

A Vietnam vet came to our book bus after Hurricane Sandy. We served the Rockaway area immediately after the storm in the book bus. This guy was talkative, personable and came to the book bus every day because his building lacked power. He charged is cell phone daily. We also gave him free legal advice referrals because of his tenant situation after the storm. The book bus was there from November 2nd 2012, to December 31st 2012, and this man was regularly there, and did not have power that whole time. We closed for 8 days and reopened in the trailer on January 8th, 2013. But this customer didn’t come in after that. I hope his situation improved.

-Matt Allison

Very Grown Up With Her First Library Card

This one little girl who I got a new library card for. When we were done she went back to her mom and jumped up and down and SQUEALED. After she picked out books she brought them to me to see what she had chosen. She actually got books for her whole family, younger brother, and mom as well as herself. We both agreed that was pretty grown up of her.

Job Search

I work at the Spuyten Duyvil library in the Bronx. An elderly gentleman who had worked for many years as a seasonal employee at the Bronx Botanical Gardens was told he had to apply online. He had no computer skills. I helped him create an email and fill out an application. I could tell by the way he talked about working at BBG that it kept him going both financially and socially. It felt good helping him, although the task took 30 minutes. This was a couple years ago. I never saw him again. Perhaps I will go to the BBG this summer to see if he is still there.

-Tim Tureski

Health Information

A few years ago, a patron recently diagnosed with cancer came to the library looking for information on the cancer she was diagnosed with, as well as for innovative treatments. I showed her a couple of databases and printed out a few related articles. She and her husband returned often, but not so much for information, as much as for support and someone to talk with. She became very special to me, as I did to her. One day she stopped coming but the frequent visits we’d had for a couple of years were always special to me and I loved making time for her regardless of how busy I might be. I never knew what happened to her because her husband also stopped coming. Although I suspect that the cancer finally took over, I’d like to think that she beat it and moved back to her home country. I may never know.