2004-06-25 / Community

Sanders Raises Awareness AboutImportance of Libraries

Contributing Editor
By Miriam Rosenberg

Sanders Raises Awareness AboutImportance of Libraries


Councilman Sanders speaks to Julissa Jeffrey at the after school program at the library. Also pictured are Jacqueline Dominguez (coloring), Jenny Rivera and her daughter Jessica.Councilman Sanders speaks to Julissa Jeffrey at the after school program at the library. Also pictured are Jacqueline Dominguez (coloring), Jenny Rivera and her daughter Jessica.

By Miriam Rosenberg

Contributing Editor

City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. retuned to his old stomping ground, the Far Rockaway Library, to rally support against cuts in Mayor Bloomberg’s budget that would have seriously affected libraries in Queens.

"Every year we go through this counter productive song and dance," said Sanders. "We take the libraries and put them on the chopping block. Instead of expanding them, we’re talking about cuts. The mayor needs to take [the libraries] off chopping block."


Library visitors Jenny Rivera and Evelyn M. Gould join Thomas Galante (the Interim Queens Library Director), Councilman Sanders and branch manager Francisca Simmons as Galante and Sanders show one of the petitions opposing further cuts in the public library system.Library visitors Jenny Rivera and Evelyn M. Gould join Thomas Galante (the Interim Queens Library Director), Councilman Sanders and branch manager Francisca Simmons as Galante and Sanders show one of the petitions opposing further cuts in the public library system.

Bloomberg’s budget threatened a $3.2 million reduction to the Queens Library system and could have resulted in 21 branches in the borough being open three or four days a week.

This would have compounded the problems caused by the last round of cuts to city’s libraries. Many branches in Queens lost weekend hours. Curently 18 of Queens’ 62 libraries have no Saturday hours. Far Rockaway is the only Rockaway library open on Saturday.

"We have to maintain a five day minimum program," said Thomas Galante, the Interim Queens Library Director.

"We’re buying 40% less books than five years ago, that hurts, [because of] inflation and budget cuts. When new books were able to be purchased at the Flushing library, circulation went up."


Far Rockaway Library’s branch manager, Francisca Simmons, points Councilman Sanders toward books on Jewish history and the Talmud. Behind him, are books on black history.Far Rockaway Library’s branch manager, Francisca Simmons, points Councilman Sanders toward books on Jewish history and the Talmud. Behind him, are books on black history.

While at the library, Sanders talked with children in the after school program.

Jessica Rivera, Jacqueline Dominguez, Julissa Jeffrey and Miguel Samayoa told Sanders about their favorite books.

Two of the children’s favorites were Franklin’s Halloween and Tornado. Sanders recalled that his favorites were Curious George and Dr. Seuss.

Jessica explained why she likes coming to the library.

"I have fun here," she said.

Sanders was also having fun as Francisca Simmons, the branch manager, gave him a tour of the library and a closer look at the collections on the shelves.

He took time to explore the vast collection of books from Russian titles, to books on the Talmud and Black History.

Sanders also spoke with visitors and staff about what they believed the library needed and promised Simmons he would return to speak to her in more detail about the branch.

Simmons told The Wave about some of the things that are in the Far Rockaway Library’s future.

"We are looking at about 150 plus for our summer reading program," said Simmons.

The library will be installing 10 wireless computers thanks to a private grant from 21st Century Learning Center.

Yet, private grants are not the norm. "Our most important funding is from our local officials," said Galante. "One of our goals is to make sure libraries are one of the top priorities they have."

Sanders learned about the importance of libraries early in life.

"What little education I got, I got from the library, and mostly this library," explained Sanders. "I discovered the love of black history in this place.

"It is so important to understand books and the liberating value of books. I can talk to people on their own terms. I’m able to converse. Not bad for a poor boy from the Rockaways."

On June 18 City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Queens Library representatives, the Queens Delegation of the City Council and children against cuts to the Queens’ libraries presented petitions with 40,000 signatures opposing any more cuts.

Bloomberg and Miller agreed to a budget for fiscal 2005 on June 21.

The press release announcing the budget agreement, though not specific, shows that there are monies for restoration of library hours.

The Queens Public Library represents 39 percent of the New York City Public Library’s total circulation and 43 percent of customer visits. Of that, The Far Rockaway Library has a circulation of 17,000 a month and about 28,000 visitors a month.

The Queens Library also has the highest circulation figures of any public library system in the country.


Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History