A record-breaking 24,000 New Yorkers nominated their local library for this year's Library Awards. Now, we are thrilled to share the top ten branches of 2017!
Here are the ten finalists and testimonials from everyday patrons:
- Allerton Library – Allerton (Bronx) – One teen wrote about BridgeUp, an afterschool program for high school students: “For once I felt a part of something. . .the library has helped me find myself with well-thought out activities and programs.”
- Queens Library at Bayside – Bayside (Queens) – Lifelong patron Daniela stated: “My mother would bring my siblings and I multiple times a week for programs and activities that have had a tremendous impact on my life. It not only made me realize what a love I have for literature and the arts, but helped me socialize as a shy child with a diverse and kind population. Now, 24 years later, I am welcomed as more than just a community member, but a family member.”
- Chatham Square Library – Chinatown (Manhattan) – Teri, an immigrant and former neighborhood resident stated: “This is the library I have been going to since I was 10 years old as a new immigrant without knowing any English. At first, it was a resource center for Chinese language books, newspaper and magazines for me and my family. Now, I am a parent with 2 young children and I have come full circle to return to this library to get Chinese books to teach my kids Chinese language. Without this library, I wouldn't have retained my Chinese language, nor improved my English.”
- Crown Heights Library – Crown Heights (Brooklyn) – 13-year-old Sara shared: “I have been coming to the Crown Heights Library since I was seven years old. This library is my favorite place, where I can come anytime and in any mood and always find something to cheer me up and make me happy. This library is shaping who I am, and I truly don't know who I'd be without it.”
- Edenwald Library – Edenwald (Bronx) – A neighborhood resident, immigrant and library staff member wrote: "This library has transformed my life. As immigrants to America, the library meant everything to us. I polished my reading and writing skills at the library. The library filled in all the gaps and helped me greatly. I landed a job with the library. Got a scholarship to go for my Masters at St. Johns University. My neighborhood library made all this possible."
- George Bruce Library – Morningside Heights (Manhattan) – Mara, a parent, stated: “From story hour to open play to art classes to readings with authors and illustrators, the library staff goes above and beyond to help instill a love of reading and books in the children that utilize the library…By partnering with places like the Studio Museum, the George Bruce Library brings art based programming to children who might not be able to access it elsewhere. Private enrichment and art classes for children are incredibly expensive, the GB Library ensures that any child in our neighborhood can participate in unique and robust programs for free!”
- Hunts Point Library – Hunts Point (Bronx) – Larry, a lifelong patron, shared: “The library has always been a second home to me. A place where I could actually visit almost seven days a week that was a safe haven for me as a child, an adult and now a parent…This library is strong on tutoring and educational development…I love the Hunts Points Library and so does my entire community.”
- Queens Library at Lefferts – Richmond Hill (Queens) – A neighborhood patron shared: “For 20 years I have been coming to this library. I feel safe here, and with Unchained [LGBTQ] support meetings I now have a safe space to be myself.”
- New Utrecht Library – New Utrecht (Brooklyn) – Library volunteer, neighborhood resident, parent and retiree Sonia stated: “In keeping with the times, our library has skillfully adapted to the change in demographics by modifying and adding events, classes and programs to embrace our new residents. The New Utrecht Library has provided an educational and welcoming space for cultural exchanges. New Utrecht Library has truly brought our diversified community together as one.”
- Queens Library at Woodside – Woodside (Queens) – Bob, a neighborhood patron stated: "One day I saw a patron in a wheelchair in tears because the elevator was out of order and she couldn't get to the second floor to attend the Korean Class. When the staff found this out, they immediately discussed it with the Korean teacher and suggested to move the class to the ground floor so the person in a wheelchair could attend the class. It shows that the staff there really care for their patrons.”
The ten finalists each took home monetary awards for this year's prestigious "Oscars of Libraries." This year's grand prize winners include: Allerton Library in the Bronx, Chatham Square Library in Lower Manhattan, Queens Library at Lefferts in Richmond Hill, New Utrecht Library in Brooklyn, and Queens Library at Woodside. These five grand prize winners each received $20,000. The remaining finalists received $10,000 each.
The Heckscher Foundation for Children awarded the Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth to the Grand Concourse Library for its proven commitment to this City’s youth through special programs, classes, and events. The Grand Concourse Library also received a prize of $20,000 to spend on their branch.
Due to an overwhelmingly positive response from patrons, the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards have added a new Perennial Excellence Award to recognize libraries that have been consistently stellar over the years. The Perennial Excellence Award was presented to Aguilar Library, Sheepshead Bay Library, and Stapleton Library for their consistently stellar services year after year, as was reflected in the high volume of nominations these branches received during each awards season. The Bronx Library Center took home the Award for Distinction in Service, honoring a regional branch for their excellent work and deserved recognition.