We have been advocating for libraries for years and it always comes up in conversation that libraries are “book warehouses” or that we are outdated in the time of Google and ebooks. This could not be further from the truth. Here at Urban Librarians Unite we apply a lot of Library Science to the work we do. These are how we see libraries DIRECTLY addressing some of the most pressing issues in New York City every single day.
Services to Older Adults
New York City’s libraries offer many special programs and events tailored to the 50+ audience. These include lectures, films, performances and educational programs that reflect the wide interests of today’s older adults. Library outreach staff regularly visit nursing homes, senior centers, and adult care centers to run programs and loan books and other library materials.
New York’s branch libraries provide a wide array of services for immigrants and are perhaps the most trusted government institution by foreign-born New Yorkers. Libraries offer English training for those who are not native speakers, preparation for the U.S. citizenship test and computer literacy classes. The libraries partner with immigrant and community groups to put on a wide variety of events and classes, from financial literacy seminars to courses on parenting, health and immigrant and tenant rights. In Queens, the library’s New Americans Program (NAP) organizes nearly 80 cultural programs each year. These programs include festivals, dance shows, music events, performances and much more.
Early Childhood Services
Everyday thousands of children in New York City participate in engaging, structured, intellectually stimulating programming provided for free at libraries. Recent studies have shown that early childhood education plays an even greater part in development than previously thought. Libraries in New York City provide hundreds of free programs every week for all ages of children starting as young as 6 months.
Thousands of homeless or at-risk individuals and families turn to New York City libraries for vocational and educational resources, health services, citizenship workshops, and food and housing information every day. In addition to offering these programs at library locations and on digital platforms, the library systems have partnered with the Department of Education, the Department of Homelessness Services, non-profit organizations, and shelters to increase access to education, technology, and community resources for all New Yorkers. Queens Library has developed an app called WhereinQueens which allows homeless individuals to find and access food, shelter, education, family, and social services right from their phone.
After School Services For Young Adults
Teenagers and young people in New York City need structured activities and a safe space after school. Libraries provide an open, free, inclusive space where young adults can explore interests, create art, prepare for college, get homework help, and have an interested and invested older adult looking out for them. Libraries provide active and engaging programming for teens for everything from technology, to sewing, to college test preparation.
Tech Training/Job Readiness
Libraries are technology training and job readiness hubs. They are working to educate the public in technology training and classes as well as providing direct technology support through lending tablets and wifi hotspots to put internet access directly in people’s homes. Libraries are providing small businesses with start up resources and training as well as providing competitive intelligence to entrepreneurs. Libraries in New York City have a direct and substantial impact on the growth of business in our city.