Visionary approach to libraries will connect New Yorkers to important programs and services

New York, NY – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today presented a new, innovative proposal for a citywide system of “Mini City Halls” that will serve as a one-stop shop for New Yorkers seeking help navigating access to important programs and services. Speaker Quinn proposed using the city’s 206 libraries as community resource centers, improving delivery and access of services. Council Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee Chair James Van Bramer, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Borough Public Library, the Center for an Urban Future and the Charles H. Revson Foundation participated in today’s press conference.

“Libraries are a tremendous, trusted resource to communities across the five boroughs. Our libraries go above and beyond in their service to New Yorkers,” said Speaker Quinn. “I’m proposing a new way of tapping into this incredible resource, a citywide system of ‘Mini City Halls’ that will serve as a one-stop shop for help in navigating access to important programs and services. With Mini City Halls, we’ll bring all that City Hall has to offer right to New Yorker’s doorsteps.”

Specifically, Speaker Quinn called for a number of specific ideas to be explored as a way of achieving her proposal:

Pilot Program

• Creating a pilot program through a public-private partnership that would work to expand City services and CBO programming at local library branches. After neighborhoods for the pilot program are identified, the libraries would collaborate with stakeholders and partners to identify and meet community needs.

Resource Centers

• Developing training and resources to provide libraries and their staff with the tools they need to help individuals seeking services navigate government resources.

• Identifying the most-requested services at each library branch and working with city agencies and their staff to facilitate access to services and resources.

Innovation Plan

• Creating a working group charged with developing a plan to identify the needs, key issues and opportunities at all branches across the three library systems. The working group would be comprised of the city’s three library systems, city agencies, local elected officials, community-based organizations and key community stakeholders.

“I applaud Speaker Christine Quinn for amplifying the important role libraries play in the development of New York City’s working class, our youth, elderly and immigrant populations,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the New York City Council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee. “By enhancing the strengths our of our three great libraries, we’ll make them even more invaluable to the millions who rely on them for information and technology every day.”

“Libraries play a tremendous role in the communities they serve so turning them into ‘Mini City Halls’ is a no brainer,” said Libraries Subcommitte Chair Vincent Gentile. “This innovative proposal will help to better meet the needs of New Yorkers by making government more accessible. I thank Speaker Quinn, my Council colleagues and the New York Public Library system for their dedication to the people of New York City.”

“We thank the City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn for their dedication to libraries, and look forward to working together for the good of New York City,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “We believe this collaboration will enhance the critical services already available at libraries, and further strengthen the deep connection between the community and local branches.”

“Libraries have always been community centers, places where people of all ages and backgrounds come to learn new skills, pursue interests and access educational and cultural resources. By expanding our work with government agencies we will offer even more opportunities to our patrons and by investing more in our branches we will enable more people to take advantage of our offerings, from our computers and technology training, to homework help and family literacy programs. Speaker Quinn and the entire City Council have long been among the strongest champions of our city’s libraries and we’re thrilled to work together on this pilot and to bring many new people into our branches,” said Linda E. Johnson, President of Brooklyn Public Library.

“Libraries are important information crossroads in every community. Queens Library is grateful to Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership in helping us build out even more valuable resources, and to the whole City Council for their support,” said Thomas W. Galante, President and CEO, Queens Library.

“New York’s public libraries are serving more people in more ways than ever before. They have become the go-to place for people who lack the basic literacy, language and technological skills that are needed in today’s knowledge economy. No other institution reaches as many people in as many ways, from immigrants and seniors to teenagers and those who are the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, which recently authored a major report about the city’s public libraries, titled Branches of Opportunity.

“New York City’s neighborhood libraries are the drivers of opportunity—acculturating new generations of immigrants, educating children beyond the school walls, providing open access to technology, and readying a workforce for the 21st Century. The Revson Foundation applauds Speaker Quinn for valuing the critical importance of neighborhood libraries in the lives of millions of New Yorkers,” Julie Sandorf, President, Charles H. Revson Foundation.

“I am pleased to join Speaker Quinn in her drive to expand the array of services offered by our City’s libraries,” Council Member Margaret Chin said. “Millions of New Yorkers visit our libraries to access the internet, take classes, receive training, and check out books. By enhancing the offerings at our libraries, we can make them more responsive to the needs in our community and ensure that libraries have a healthy and robust future in our City. I want to thank Speaker Quinn and offer my support for this pilot program.”