Literary Treasure


>>>READING IS CERTAINLY FUNDAMENTAL BUT IT’S ALSO BELOVED. ON MARCH 2nd, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE DR. SEUSS’ BIRTHDAY, IT WILL BE CELEBRATED WITH READ ACROSS AMERICA, AN ANNUAL PROGRAM BY THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION THAT ENCOURAGES COMMUNITIES TO GET YOUTHS TO READ AND PBS WILL LAUNCH THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, A CAMPAIGN TO FIND, QUOTE, AMERICA’S BEST-LOVED BOOK. NOW THE INSTITUTIONS THAT HOUSE THEM ARE GETTING THEIR MOMENT TO SHINE. ACCORDING TO A RECENT PEW RESEARCH STUDY, 94% OF AMERICANS SAY PUBLIC LIBRARIES IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN COMMUNITIES. AT THE FOURTH ANNUAL NEW YORK CITY LIBRARY AWARDS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE OSCARS OF LIBRARIES, BRANCHERS WERE HONORED FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CITY. FIVE OF THE BEST AWARDED A GRAND PRIZE OF $25,000 EACH AND ALL TREATED TO A VIEWING OF A SHORT DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTING THE INCREDIBLE WAYS IN WHICH THESE INSTITUTIONS HAVE UPLIFTED NEW YORK CITY’S COMMUNITIES. HERE’S A QUICK LOOK.>>WHEN I FIRST STOPPED WORKING, WE STARTED COMING EVERY DAY. THAT GAVE ME THE TIME TO RESEARCH AND SEE WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS.>>I NEED HELP WITH THE COMPUTER IF YOU’RE NOT BUSY.>>I WANT TO FINISH COLLEGE AND NOW I DON’T HAVE ANY EXCUSE NOT TO COMPLETE WHAT I NEED TO DO.>>YOU NEED TO RIGHT A PERSONAL STATEMENT AND AN ESSAY.>>AND I’M VERY PLEASED TO BE JOINED BY ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE AWARDS A POSSIBILITY, JULIE, THE PRESIDENT AND MANUAL MARTINEZ WHO YOU JUST SAW IN THAT CLIP FROM THE BRONX, NEW YORK. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.>>JULIE, YOU SAID SOMETHING INTERESTING TO ME AND THAT IS THAT THE DOCUMENTARY TOLD SOME STORIES AND SOME VERY POWERFUL AND COMPELLING STORIES. HOW MANY STORIES DID YOU ALL SIFT THROUGH THAT WERE CONTRIBUTED THAT SAID LIBRARIES MADE A DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE?>>THIS YEAR’S LIBRARY AWARDS, WE RECEIVED OVER 24,000 NOMINATIONS. 24,000 NOMINATIONS AND TELLS THE STORIES OF THE LIBRARIES AND BRANCHES WERE INDISPENSABLE AND THE STORIES AND THEY ARE SO COMPELLING THAT THEY RANGE FROM YOUNG KIDS WHERE THE LIBRARY IS A SAFE HAVEN TO IMMIGRANTS WHO LEARN ESL, LEARN TO BECOME CITIZENS, TO CULTURAL WORKS PROGRAMS AND TO PLACES WHERE YOU CAN JUST COME AND DISCOVER THE TREASURES OF THE WORLD BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL IN YOUR LIBRARY.>>WHY IS THIS PROGRAM, THIS INITIATIVE, SO IMPORTANT TO THE CHARLES H WEBSTER FOUNDATION?>>WE KNEW THESE INSTITUTIONS WERE ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS BUT THE BRANCHES THAT HAD EXPERIENCED DECADES OF NEGLECT, OVER $1.5 BILLION IN DEFERRED MAINTENANCE, CEILINGS CRUMBLING, LIBRARY HOURS AND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR OUR LIBRARIES WAS BELOW THE TOP TEN CITIES IN THIS COUNTRY AND WE ALSO KNEW THAT IN A CITY OF MILLION IMMIGRANTS, ANDREW CARNEGIE’S DREAM OF THE LIBRARY BEING OPENED TO EVERYONE, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR RACE IS, YOUR INCOME, YOUR GENDER, YOUR AGE, THAT YOU COULD OPEN UP AN INTELLECTUAL SOCIAL LIFE TO EVERYONE.>>LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN TERMS OF — LET’S CALL IT THE USAGE, I GUESS, FOR LACK OF A BETTER TERM, OF YOUR FACILITY OVER THE LAST COUPLE YEARS. HAS IT INCREASED OR DECREASED?>>IT HAS INCREASED OVER THE YEARS. WE’VE TARGETED OUTREACH INTO THE COMMUNITY TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF OUR SERVICES. I’VE GONE TO SEVERAL MEETINGS, SEVERAL COMMUNITY BOARD MEETINGS, SMALLER ASSOCIATIONS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY TO FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY WAS AND THEN I TOOK THAT INFORMATION BACK TO THE BRANCH, WORKED WITH MY TEAM TO DEVELOP PROGRAMMING AND DEVELOP CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS THAT WOULD HELP PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY. AND WE HAVE SEEN A GREAT INCREASE IN ATTENDANCE.>>HOW DO YOU DETERMINE — THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT AWARD. 20,000-PLUS STORIES ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE — HOW PEOPLE HAVE BEEN UTILIZING LIBRARIES, HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHO THE AWARD WINNERS ARE?>>WELL, ULTIMATELY IT’S SUBJECTIVE BUT WHAT WE LOOK FOR ARE STORIES THAT HAVE COME FROM THE HEART, STORIES THAT TELL US ABOUT HOW LIBRARIES HAVE CHANGED PEOPLE’S LIVES, THEIR OWN LIVES. FROM AN IMMIGRANT FROM MORACO WHO SPOKE NO ENGLISH AND FELT ISOLATED, SHE FOUND A LIBRARY AND FOUND A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE WHO WERE WONDERFUL AND HELPED HER LEARN ENGLISH AND HELPED HER JOIN DIFFERENT WORKSHOPS AND GROUPS SO SHE COULD MEET HER NEIGHBORS. THE STORIES ARE ENDLESS.>>MANNY, FROM YOUR PERCENT — PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DOES THIS AWARD MEAN?>>LET ME SAY IT’S TRULY AN HONOR TO BE IN THE TOP FIVE. THE COMMUNITY IS — THEY ARE THANKFUL FOR THE SERVICES THAT WE PROVIDE TO THEM AND THEY REALLY TAKE OUT OF THE PROGRAMS THAT WE DO AND THE ACTIVITIES AND THE CLASSES. THEY’RE LEARNING EVERY DAY AND JUST TO KNOW THAT –>>I THINK WHAT’S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW IS THAT WHEN YOU THINK OF THE LIBRARIES, IT’S NOT JUST A REPOSITORY OF BOOKS. THERE ARE CLASSES GOING ON. THERE ARE THESE PROGRAMS REACHING OUT NOT JUST TO IMMIGRANTS BUT TO OTHER MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY. SO I GUESS MY QUESTION — LET ME ASK YOU THIS, JULIE, IS THAT WHAT IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO ALLOW OUR LIBRARIES, TO THRIVE, BE A VIBRANT PART OF OUR EXISTENCE? I SUSPECT SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT, IN THIS DIGITAL AGE, LIBRARIES WILL BECOME IRRELEVANT.>>WELL, WE HAVE AN UNBELIEVABLE ASSET THAT 40 MILLION VISITORS DON’T RELY AND WE HAVE MADE SOME PROGRESS BUT NOT ENOUGH.>>HOPEFULLY THROUGH CONVERSATIONS LIKE THIS WE’LL BE ABLE TO MAKE MORE PROGRESS BECAUSE IT’S HARD TO LOOK AT THIS AND SEE ANY DOWNSIDE TO THE IDEA OF TAKE THESE MARVELOUS TREASURES AND MAKE THEM AVAILABLE TO AS MANY PEOPLE FOR AS MUCH TIME AS WE POSSIBLY CAN.>>AND I THINK IN THIS ENVIRONMENT WHERE THERE’S SUCH ACRIMONY, THIS IS THE ONE PLACE WHERE PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AND BECAUSE THE LIBRARIANS ARE SO TRUSTED AND SUCH HONEST BROKERS, YOU REALLY CAN’T FULFILL THE AMERICAN DREAM IN THESE INSTITUTIONS.>>JULIE, THANK YOU. AND CERTAINLY FOR YOUR FOUNDATION AND MANNY FOR YOU THE EXCEPTIONAL WORK THAT YOU’RE DOING AND I’M GLAD TO SEE YOU HONORED AS YOU PASS THAT ON TO YOUR TEAM ALSO FOR CONTRIBUTING. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU, JACK.
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