A recent report from the Center for an Urban Future (see this infoDOCKET post from Jan. 30, 2013) was the “foundation” of a new proposal by Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council (and mayoral candidate) to make some libraries “little city halls”.
Details From the Center for the Urban Future Web Site:
Our report, which was funded by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, documented that the city’s public libraries are serving a record number of New Yorkers, even in an age of e-books, and have become the go-to place for so many New Yorkers who lack the basic literacy, language and technological skills that are needed in today’s knowledge economy. It argued that no other institution reaches as many people in as many ways as libraries, from immigrants and seniors to teens.
Speaker Quinn’s proposal taps into this, embracing libraries’ unique position in communities across the city as trustworthy institutions that have a unique ability to reach New Yorkers who might not seek assistance from government offices. She proposed making some libraries “Mini City Halls,” and called for a number of specific ideas to be explored as a way of achieving her proposal:
- Creating a pilot program through a public-private partnership that would work to expand City services and CBO programming at local library branches. After neighborhoods for the pilot program are identified, the libraries would collaborate with stakeholders and partners to identify and meet community needs.
- Developing training and resources to provide libraries and their staff with the tools they need to help individuals seeking services navigate government resources.
- Identifying the most-requested services at each library branch and working with city agencies and their staff to facilitate access to services and resources.
- Creating a working group charged with developing a plan to identify the needs, key issues and opportunities at all branches across the three library systems. The working group would be comprised of the city’s three library systems, city agencies, local elected officials, community-based organizations and key community stakeholders.