Fiscal year 2009 at Queens Library mirrored upheaval in our nation. Our national economy was shaken, and, at a local level, Queens Library was faced with potentially devastating budget cuts. Through it all, our ability to meet challenges and serve our community remained strong.
Even with these challenges, our circulation once again made us the highest-circulating public library system in the country and one of the largest in the world. Library Journal, considered the industry standard for the field of librarianship, named us the 2009 Library of the Year. And, with the help of our friends and supporters, we were able to beat back devastating budget cuts.
One of the reasons we have been singled out by Library Journal is our expansive programming and services for the 2.3 million residents of our Queens community. In fiscal year 2009, over a half million people attended nearly 30,000 programs at Queens Library, which ranged from concerts to tips on avoiding foreclosure. Our Summer Reading Program was also a popular draw, with nearly 55,000 eager readers of all ages signing up.
In fiscal year 2009, our materials and services answered the needs of our population. Together with local health organizations, Queens Library’s HealthLink brought free and low-cost screening and health information to uninsured and underinsured Queens residents. Job Information Centers offered crucial skills to those seeking work. Youth Literacy Programs served young adults from 16 to 24 with pre-GED classes. This past year, we also added a chat feature to our Mail-A-Book program, so our homebound customers could have real-time conversations together about books and attend “virtual” programs at Queens Library.
Our partnerships with other nonprofit organizations in Queens and elsewhere also strengthened our community. For the third year running, we encouraged entrepreneurs with our StartUP! Business Plan Competition, supported by the Queens Borough President’s office; we also helped Lincoln Center celebrate its 50th anniversary by hosting special programs in our libraries.
At Queens Library, community is also defined by our buildings and the space we share. The Library has been engaged in one of the most ambitious building initiatives in its history, building new libraries and renovating several libraries throughout the system. Over the past fiscal year, we broke ground on our state-of-the-art Children’s Library Discovery Center at Central Library and completed extensive renovations of Queens Library at Lefferts, Broad Channel, and Broadway.
Fiscal year 2009 was an unqualified success for Queens Library, and we are so grateful to our millions of customers who support us, use our resources, and look to us for help as they reach for their own futures. At Queens Library, we foster community by enriching lives.