Local 1321 Queens Library Guild

Response to Center for Urban Future's Branches of Opportunity

In 1896, the Queens Library began cataloging and lending books and newspapers to meet the needs of local residents, including material in languages other than English - German, Polish, Italian. Ever since then, Queens Library employees have been trying to meet the demands of every local community. In the 1900s, the Library launched programs for all ages. In the 1910s, the Library offered resources about influenza and actively participated on the home-front during World War I. In the 1930s, the Library started offering audio material. In the 1940s, the Library created programs and services to assist in the war effort. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Library grew considerably to meet Queens’ post-war growth. In the 1970s, the Library began lending movies. Also in that decade the Library established the Adult Literacy Program to teach literacy to adults. In the 1980s, the Job Information Center was opened. In the 1990s, the Library began offering computer and Internet services. Also in the 1990s, using neighborhood population data from the US Census, the Library enhanced collection development to pinpoint the needs of Queens neighborhoods’ ever-changing population. Now, in the 21st century, every branch has computers with Internet, free wi-fi, coupled with amazing programs, collections and exceptional, caring and dedicated employees who provide excellent customer service.

Since the inception of the Queens Library, Library staff have attempted to meet the demands of every neighborhood in Queens with limited budgets. As this report documents, the people of Queens need library services. However, the repeated budget cuts since 2008 have had an immense strain on the staff. The Queens Library has lost over 190 public service staff - librarians, clerical workers, custodians and computer service technicians. The remaining staff struggle to keep the branch libraries open and meet the needs of library customers.

As the report points out, a budget must be created that allows Libraries to meet the needs of its customers. Throughout its history, the Queens Library has done an admirable job serving the public. To address the needs discussed in the report, our politicians must provide additional funding on a consistent basis to public libraries. We hope our politicians take this report to heart.

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