The Queens Library as an institution has been a harbinger of good will and collaboration for decades—whether it’s a local branch working with residents to hold a meeting, acting as a babysitter for kids after school, or serving as a necessary respite for those without a place to go during the harsh Queens winters.
For Queens Library CEO Dennis Walcott, fostering these relationships between Queens groups and residents and their local branches has been one of the many priorities that he’s had on his agenda.
“One of the things I’ve been trying to do and firmly believe in is partnerships,” Walcott said. “We’ve taken a look at how we can develop and expand those partnerships.”
These partnerships have been evident in the many programs that the Queens Library has seen in the last year or so. Most recently, the Queens Library teamed up with the Queens Hospital Center for the recently launched “Digital-Q” service.
According to NYC Health + Hospitals, “‘Digital-Q is a new web-based application that seamlessly delivers as many as 10,000 popular magazine issues to personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops for free, along with a simple, one-screen sign-up system for new electronic library cards.”
The Queens Library has also worked with a variety of different agencies and nonprofits citywide. The NYC Small Business Services, the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York City Police Department and the previously mentioned Health+Hopsitals have all had discussions with Walcott on how they can best align their work with the Queens Library.
These collaborations stretch beyond the “World’s Borough.” Walcott has maintained a solid relationship with both the New York Public Library system—which serves Staten Island, the Bronx and Manhattan—and the Brooklyn Public Library. Most recently, that partnership was jointly responsible for the introduction of video visitation.
Working with the Department of Corrections and the New York City Council, the three library systems have become centers of hope for families who can’t quite make it to Riker’s Island for face time with their loved ones serving time. Instead, these families can go to their local library, where they can conduct video calls with them.
Making himself as approachable as he has made the possibility for those interested in working with the library that much easier.
“I’ve had people approach me here,” Walcott said, “not necessarily for big agency partnerships but for small workshops for quilting or knitting. Being accessible here allows partnerships with individuals who want to do things with their local community-based organizations or as individuals.”
Every month, the Queens Library is home to countless programs big and small serving all sorts of demographics. Walcott knows that this is one of the most important elements of the 110-year-old system.
“People look to the libraries for information and sharing of resources and information with each other,” Walcott said.