It’s National Volunteer Week! Service Takes Many Forms here at the Library, and this year we want to highlight the winners of the Friends of QPL Shining Star Award.
The Shining Star Award is given to individual Friends members that demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities that inspire and motivate others to action; and groups that exemplify a collaborative spirit and strive to work together to provide ideas, resources, and opportunities that uplift their community.
Here's our conversation with the staff of Cambria Heights Library, who received the Shining Star Staff Award for their work supporting the Cambria Heights Friends group.
Why are the Friends of QPL an asset to your community or neighborhood?
We have many community organizations in our neighborhood, from jazz collectives to domestic violence support groups to artists, writers, and beyond, so it’s essential that we have Friends who have contacts with these groups, and they do. They are very good at involving many aspects of our community and constantly pitching programs and organizations who can enrich our cultural spaces at the library. – Tejas Desai, Assistant Community Library Manager
What have been your proudest moments to date during your time working with the Friends of QPL?
My proudest moment was winning the Shining Star Award for Outstanding Staff Support! Also, the pandemic was so crazy, and the Friends really stepped up their virtual programming and were a major source of support. I remember when George Floyd was murdered: it was a tragedy. The Friends invited speakers to talk about police brutality, including a mother who founded an organization after she lost a family member to police violence. It was helpful to have an outlet to have a discussion about what was going on in the country. This was so invaluable during such a difficult time! The Friends are not just Friends, they’re also my friends! – Kacper Jarecki, Community Library Manager
Why was it important for your staff to remain actively involved with the Friends throughout the past two years during the height of the pandemic?
The Friends are in contact with and understand the soul of the community. Without them, we wouldn’t understand the needs and status of the community as much as we do. – Tejas Desai, Assistant Community Library Manager
Can you share your favorite memories of working with the Friends of QPL during the past two years?
- The Cambria Heights Friends sponsored a virtual poetry event in April 2020 that was well attended by the public and poets. We also had a painting event with Wanda Best, our Vice President (and artist). – Adrienne Hawthorne, Adult Services Librarian
- I really enjoyed tabling with Aletta Seales, Angela Sinclair, and others at various street fairs throughout southeast Queens where we promoted our programs, including Friends programs, and our library generally. – Tejas Desai, Assistant Community Library Manager
- My favorite memory is our collaboration on the Manga Madness series. – Amanda Aponte, Teen Center Site Coordinator
- My favorite memory is seeing them and hanging out with them! I love them so much! – Kacper Jarecki, Community Library Manager
With the world changed as a result of the pandemic, in what ways can the Friends (and the library) remain relevant and an asset to the community?
The world keeps changing, but we will always need each other!!! The library offers that human touch and human connection, and nobody exemplifies that better than the Friends!!! – Kacper Jarecki, Community Library Manager
For more information about joining an existing Friends group or starting your own chapter for your neighborhood library, visit https://volunteer.queenslibrary.org/qplfriends.
If you're interested in other ways of volunteering at Queens Public Library, you can visit https://volunteer.queenslibrary.org.