Fiscal Year 2012 was a proud one for Queens Library. A record number of library users enriched their lives at a record number of programs. Every library in every community maintained a stable service schedule of more than five days a week, despite successive budget cuts from the City. The library continued to advance in information technology that will serve library customers for years to come. We leveraged grant-funded services to great success. Through them, we trained thousands of job seekers in new skills. We referred many underserved patrons to affordable health care. We welcomed parents of autistic children into the library for special programs, and we filled so many other gaps in the social fabric of our borough. As the importance of the public library as a community space increases — that third place, away from home and work — robust capital funding from elected officials allowed us to continue renovating and expanding library buildings to fulfill that mission. We are setting the stage for our customers to continue an active and electronically relevant future.
In July 2011, we celebrated the grand opening of the Children’s Library Discovery Center. This amazing new destination boasts 14,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, interactive library space on two stories. Designed for children ages 3 to 12, it has museum-quality exhibits designed in partnership with the celebrated San Francisco Exploratorium, a special early childhood area, video microscopes, computers — and, of course, 70,000 books.
In 2011, we started construction on the exciting new Elmhurst Library, which will double the size of the old library. It will offers four levels for customer service with separate areas for adults, children and teens. It will also offer a 32-computer Cyber Center, a new Adult Learning Center and a community garden in the rear. The $27.8 million project is slated for completion in 2013.
We also began the expansion of the Adult Learning Center at Rochdale Village, doubling its customer service area to increase educational capacity. That $4.1 million project will include expanded classroom space, more computers and listening stations, more study/conversation group space and a new handicap-accessible restroom. Work is expected to be finished in the fall of 2013.
In addition to new construction, Queens Library undertook several major renovations.
Queens Library puts a high value on providing lifelong learning opportunities for our customers, and especially in the skills that improve job readiness. Queens Library is the leading provider of free internet/digital access and technology training to people in Queens. More than 19,000 people took advantage of computer training at the library in FY 12, and almost 39,000 participated in training directly related to finding and preparing for a job. More than 294,000 adults — nearly 18% of all adults in Queens! — took advantage of continuing education programs at Queens Library. They included some very valuable opportunities.
In January 2012, we proudly opened the new Cyber Center at the Central Library, the first stage of major renovations at Central Library. It doubled the size of the old Cyber Center, with 72 computer workstations, printers, a scanner and computerized scheduling. It is part of a full renovation which will be completed in 2013.
In January 2012, we offered library customers a free opportunity to attend the Cisco Academy — 20 three-hour training sessions held at our Long Island City location that makes attendees eligible for certification to work as an IT technician, IT administrator or field service technician.
In April 2012, we started offering access to a series of online courses people can take to earn professional certifications in a number of areas. Queens Library customers can access training online from Microsoft Office Suite all the way up to Six Sigma and CompTIA certification — all free and accessible from any computer with the Internet and headphones or speakers. These certifications are industry-recognized and assist in employability.
Also in April, we launched a pilot program, lending 50 e-readers pre-loaded with e-books at the Central Library. It is the first time this service has been available in a New York City public library.
To enhance our superb customer service, we continued to roll out RFID self-check-in and self-check-out technology. These systems are faster and far more accurate than the old bar-code scanners, and the self-check-in systems provide 24-hour-a-day, 7-day- a- week return service for customers.
Queens Library also sought to enrich the lives of our customers through ambitious programming. We debuted Queens ConnectCare, a partnership with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that encourages people, especially those in the Rockaways and South Jamaica, to take advantage of affordable primary and preventive medical care. Queens Library offered an expanded slate of free health-related programs on issues like controlling blood pressure, obesity, asthma, and diabetes.
With Reach Rockaway, a community-based outreach initiative, we spread the word about the innovative services the Teen Library and Far Rockaway Library offer the community, reaching more than 8,000 apartments.
With its focuses on information access and customer service, Queens Library is in a strong position to serve the growing and evolving informational needs of a borough of 2.3 million people. For that, we thank our elected officials, customers, our Board of Trustees, Friends of Queens Library and staff.