Each year, the Queens Public Library Foundation invites library staff from across the QPL system to submit ideas for new and innovative programs that address the specific needs of their communities. Your donations help support these initiatives through the Foundation’s Innovation Fund, which provides up to $10,000 each to selected libraries to implement their programs and discover new ways of engaging and supporting the public.

The 2022 Innovation Fund awarded grants to ten exciting new programs, as well as second-year support for the expansion of three projects that were funded last year.

Beyond Typical – Universal Programs for All Adults
Glen Oaks Library and Community Engagement and Outreach

In 2018, Glen Oaks received an Innovation Fund grant for its Beyond Barriers project, a pilot program for developmentally disabled adults. Following an evaluation and a review of community feedback, staff revised the program, renamed it Beyond Typical, and will present inclusive programs in-person and online to adults with disabilities, particularly those supported by the nearby Queens Center for Progress.

Bookcycle 2.0
Sunnyside and Other Library Locations in Northwestern Queens

The Bookcycle 2.0 — a higher tech version of the Bookcycle, which was originally funded by an Innovation Fund grant in 2017 — will bring library services to people waiting on line outside of food pantries and to other outdoor spaces like parks and open streets. The next-level bike will offer free Wi-Fi, a solar-powered charging station, a language line and other resources.

Community Conversations – Addressing the Housing Crisis in Ridgewood through Community Partnerships
Ridgewood Library

To address the rise in homelessness and the affordable housing crisis, fueled in part by the pandemic and by gentrification, Ridgewood will host monthly workshops with local community groups, city agencies, and nonprofits to provide resources to people facing housing insecurity. The library will also hold weekly coffees for homeless customers and others interested in meeting with library staff and guest speakers to learn about housing and social service resources.

Library of Things – Early Learner Edition
Flushing Library

This project aims to introduce early learners to coding concepts and basic music, math and circuitry by providing access to STEAM toys and coding materials from a “Library of Things,” from which anyone with a library card can borrow items such as Code and Learn Ladybugs, Bee-Bot Programmable Robots, Coding Critters and Start-Up Circuits.

Library Outreach to Veterans – Mindfulness Program, Information Fair & Author Presentation
Community Engagement and Outreach

Through mindfulness and coping skills programs, this initiative will support veterans who are housed at Rikers Island, and those who are patients at St. Albans VA Medical Center. During the week of Veterans Day, a talk by a veteran author, and an information fair featuring information sessions with representatives from veteran service organizations will be held at Central Library.

Loanable Charging Devices for In-House Customer Use
Hillcrest, Howard Beach, Hunters Point and Rochdale Village Libraries

This project will support the purchase of portable chargers and charging cords at Hillcrest, Howard Beach, Hunters Point and Rochdale Village Libraries, and at the same time provide data to help the Library determine whether it is possible and advisable to offer them at additional locations.

STEAMtivity – WWYD (What Would You Do)
Rochdale Village Library

The STEAMtivity program will offer opportunities to elementary and middle school students to try STEAM activities and build skills in a fun, informal environment, inspired by sessions presented by the Idlewild Park Environmental Science Center. After answering the question “What would you do?” participants will spend six months creating and designing solutions to a real-world environmental problem by using their newly acquired STEAM skills.

StoryWalks @QPL
Corona, Auburndale, and Peninsula Libraries

To bring back customers and introduce new ones to QPL, Corona, Auburndale, and Peninsula Libraries are partnering with the StoryWalks® Project to get children up to age 8 reading while enjoying the great outdoors. Through the program, pages from books will be posted along popular pedestrian routes and in library windows, so stories can be read by literally moving from one page to the next.

The Queens Memory Cookbook – Sharing Stories, Connecting Neighbors, Enriching the Archives
St. Albans, Ridgewood, and the Queens Memory Project

Two new volumes of the Queens Memory Community Cookbook will be developed through recipe-focused story sharing events and in-person scanning and recording events at St. Albans and Ridgewood. Participants will share cooking tips and recipes and contribute to the cookbook. This project will be rolled out in partnership with the Addisleigh Park Civic Organization and the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society.

Unbox this: YA Book Boxes @QPL
Corona Library

This book box subscription program is designed to keep kids coming to Corona — located in a community that does not have a local high school — after they leave middle school. Through the program, tweens and teens can sign up to periodically receive boxes containing a YA book from the collection, as well as extras like craft kits and snacks. The program will also help librarians sharpen and exercise their reader advisory skills by choosing books that align with the interests of subscribers and by introducing them to new authors and ideas.

Second-Year Innovation Fund Initiatives

Creating and Promoting Post-COVID LGBTQ Youth Safe Spaces
LGBTQ+ Allies Steering Committee

To continue to make QPL’s libraries more welcoming and supportive of vulnerable LGBTQ youth, the LGBTQ+ Allies Steering Committee will highlight QPL’s existing queer-friendly materials, services and spaces, and add new visual representations, materials, staff training, and educational events in collaboration with partnering organizations. It will also support participation in the annual Queens Pride Parade.

Healthy Eating for a Healthy You
Health and Safety Department, Central Library

Health and Safety will continue to offer staff one-on-one and group nutrition services to help them manage weight and other physical changes during the pandemic. The program, which was introduced last year, will feature physical and mental health and wellness opportunities such as guided meditation, group yoga instruction, and access to personal trainers.

Initiatives to Combat the Rise in Anti-Asian Hate
Elmhurst Library

Elmhurst will continue to expand its Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection and offer more resources that address racism. The branch will also provide additional programming during Asian American Heritage Month and host a panel discussion of AAPI authors about AAPI writing in the United States and the ways it has evolved.