Support Learning in Libraries

December 05, 2003

Announcement made by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Three-year grants awarded to Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Borough Public Library; complementary grant to Urban Libraries Council to improve coordination between systems

NEW YORK, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2003 – The Wallace Foundation is donating $6 million to the City's three public library systems to support and expand core programs that help libraries serve as learning places for kids during non-school hours. The gift was made in response to a $36 million Emergency Campaign announced by Mayor Bloomberg in May.

The grant includes a $2 million donation to each of the three library systems (Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Public Library, and the Queens Borough Public Library) and their 212 branches. In addition, The Wallace Foundation is donating $897,000 to the Urban Libraries Council to help support the Learning in Libraries program. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the announcement on his weekly radio show “Live from City Hall with John Gambling” aired on WABC. Joining the Mayor for the announcement was M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation.

“Since the nineteenth century, New York City’s three library systems have relied on both public and private funding to operate,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The Wallace Foundation’s generous gift to the Emergency Campaign will help ensure that our City’s 212 libraries will remain as our City’s information gateways and enable them to continue their vital role in educating and informing all New Yorkers, especially our City’s youth. I applaud the Wallace Foundation for its partnership and commitment to our City’s future.”

“We’ve long supported libraries’ efforts to better serve people, and are delighted to join the mayor’s emergency appeal,” said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. “We hope our partnership with the three New York City library systems will improve learning opportunities for city students, and that the knowledge we gain from this partnership will help libraries around the country serve their communities more effectively, and we are pleased to join the mayor’s appeal. And at a time when money will continue to be tight, we want to help the three library systems find ways to work together to achieve efficiencies and improved services.”

“Every day thousands of children come to Brooklyn Public Library after school. They come to find books, programs and technology for homework help and for fun,” said Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Public Library. “This generous grant will enhance our ability to provide what children need to learn successfully. We look forward to working with our colleagues at Queens Borough Public Library and at New York Public Library so that all children in the City of New York will be well-served by their libraries.”

“Across the borough of Queens, children will benefit from this grant, which will unify, transform and expand our existing children's out-of-school programs and provide countless opportunities for learning and growth,” said Thomas W. Galante, Queens Borough Library Interim Director.

“This extraordinarily generous commitment will help us in many ways, including raising the level of high quality literacy enrichment programs available to children and teens when they are not in school,” said Paul LeClerc, President of The New York Public Library. “With these funds we can train 1,100 current staff members to work with young people, so that everyone is ready to help out. We also will be able to increase the number of children who join our very successful summer reading program, and support it with more book purchases. Finally, we will work with the other systems to build a long-needed website for parents and children that points to homework help resources available throughout the five boroughs.”

The “Learning in Libraries” goals are to:

  • Help libraries improve the quality of their after-school and summer services, particularly homework help and reading programs;
  • Enhance library collections and explore the building of an internet-based homework help system to support the new citywide standardized curriculum;
  • Increase coordination between the three library systems so that they work together to improve staff skills and jointly develop the ability to collect data and assess the impact of their programs; and
  • Strengthen the role of public libraries as contributors to the city’s overall out-of-school-time learning system.

The Wallace Foundation, established by Reader’s Digest founders DeWitt and Lila Wallace, supports and shares effective ideas and practices that help institutions expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its current goals are to: strengthen education leadership to improve student achievement; improve after-school learning opportunities; and expand participation in arts and culture.

The public may give to the library or system of their choice through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York. For more information please contact the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York by dialing 311.

The Wallace Foundation
Lucas Held: 212-251-9782

New York City Hall
Ed Skyler/Jon Werbell: 212-788-2958

Brooklyn Public Library
Beth Weinstein

New York Public Library
Caroline Oyama

Queens Borough Public Library
Joseph Catambrone