Oct. 31, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan
Elected officials joined Queens Public Library President Dennis Walcott at the Glen Oaks branch on Monday, Oct. 30, to discuss funding for libraries and their intergenerational enrichment programs.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Member Linda Lee, who represents the area, read a storybook and participated in an interactive music and movement class for over a dozen toddlers in attendance.
Earlier this year, the city’s libraries were set to experience budget cuts as part of the Mayor’s push for every city agency to reduce their budget by four percent. The Queens Public Library system was set to lose $12 million annually. But after intense backlash, and the City Council’s effective advocacy, the libraries were spared from cuts.
“Libraries are among our most precious public resources and are critical to the well-being of our society,” said Adams. “These resource hubs provide free programs that help children in their cognitive and social development and support immigrant communities through English-language classes.”
City’s First Readers is an enrichment program and city council initiative designed to support the literary development of children from birth to five years old. It was started to address the literacy gap that low-income children have compared to their high income peers. The gap is difficult to close as kids grow older and has long-term effects on social mobility and health.
For the 2024 Fiscal Year, the QPL received $438,000 in funding just for CFR. It will allow them to put out more programs that will build and strengthen reading skills, especially those from households where languages other than English are spoken.
There are dozens of CFR events in libraries across the city every day such as Toddler Time and Babies & Books. Their website also has resources for parents such as tips to reach reading at home, book recommendations and social justice initiatives they can take.
To promote the CFR program, Speaker Adams read Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great! by Sandra Bounton to the families in attendance.
“Libraries are more than just a place for residents to read their favorite book. Our libraries serve as centers for our children to learn and develop as they grow into our future leaders,” said Lee.
For the 2024 fiscal year, the Queens Public Library was allocated $135 million in operating funds. A separate $7.8 million in capital dollars, allocated by the Council, will go facility expansions, infrastructure upgrades and equipment purchases at various branches.
“Speaker Adams and Council Member Lee have demonstrated time and again their profound understanding of the role libraries play in strengthening our communities and we are thrilled they could join our toddler class at the Glen Oaks library today, witnessing first-hand the impact of our programs on children’s growth and development,” said Walcott. “We are deeply grateful to them for their steadfast advocacy and financial support as well as for prioritizing essential literacy initiatives, allowing us to offer free access to knowledge and opportunity for learners of all ages.”