The Charles H. Revson Foundation announced last week the 10 finalists for the first annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards, which celebrate the crucial role of local libraries in serving the city's diverse communities. The Awards ? the first of their kind to honor individual branch libraries ? generated 4,310 nominations from New Yorkers.
"These nominations reveal the passion that New Yorkers have for their neighborhood libraries," said Julie Sandorf, President of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. "Our libraries promote and reflect the promise of our city ? evening the playing field for millions of New Yorkers who seek self-improvement."
From May 20th to July 1st, New Yorkers submitted nominations through the websites of the Brooklyn Public Library; the New York Public Library, which operates neighborhood libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island; and the Queens Library. WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, the Foundation's media partner in this initiative, provided radio and online coverage, helping to build awareness of the Awards and the nomination process.
The 10 finalists are now being reviewed by a panel of judges, who will decide which five will win the NYC Neighborhood Library Award and $10,000 each. The other five will each win a secondary prize of $5,000. The judges are: R.L. Stine, author of the renowned Goosebumps series; Kurt Andersen, author and host of WNYC's Studio 360; Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and former president of the American Library Association; Fatima Shama, NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs; and Don Weisberg, President of the Penguin Young Readers Group.
Of the 10 finalists, two are in Manhattan; below are excerpts from their nominations:
Aguilar Library ? East Harlem South: "This library is an incredible resource for our family. It's our weekly tradition to stop by and spend time browsing through the different titles. We can't afford to buy books so this branch has become a wonderful destination."
Seward Park Library ? Lower East Side: "My father reads Chinese Newspaper everyday there. The rich collection in Chinese literacy helped him a lot when he first arrived in New York from Beijing. Many of my classmates from the library's English classes have found better jobs, got citizenships or entered college after several terms' training."
A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future ? titled Branches of Opportunity and funded by the Charles H. Revson Foundation ? revealed that over the past decade, circulation at New York City libraries has increased by 59 percent, program attendance by 40 percent, and program sessions by 27 percent while City funding has declined by 8 percent.