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City agencies untapped resource in distributing library cards: Pol

Brooklyn Library CEO Linda Johnson, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, President John Hyslop of Queens Library Guild Local 1321 and Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante pose with children at the Woodside Library at the announcement of the councilman's legislation to provide library cards to needy kids. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) announced at the Woodside Library last week that he had introduced legislation designed to put even more library cards in the hands of needy children.

As an extension of his Library Card Act of 2010, which incorporated library card applications into the city Department of Education’s enrollment packets, Van Bramer said he would be working to distribute library card applications to children who come through four city agencies: the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Human Resources Administration and Department of Homeless Services.

“We know that the best thing for every young mind is a library card,” Van Bramer said.

The councilman made the announcement Nov. 30, surrounded by many of those young minds in the children’s room of the library, at 54-22 Skillman Ave.

Van Bramer, formerly the external affairs director for the Queens Library and now chairman of the Council Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee, said he was introducing the bill, Intro 711, since too many children in the city do not have library cards and the four agencies have extensive outreach and interaction with young people.

ACS alone interacts with 225,000 young people every year, Van Bramer said.

“As wonderful as it is to see this children’s room full, we want to see it bursting at the seams,” he said.

Van Bramer did not have an estimate on how many additional children could become library customers through this bill, but said the New York Public Library — the library system for Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island — saw a 22 percent increase in customers after the 2010 act was instituted.

As in the 2010 act, which included library card applications in the already-existing enrollment packets, Van Bramer said he hoped to institute this act at little to no cost and was working with agencies to see how best to distribute the applications.

“These are difficult times, so we want to do it in a way so it doesn’t cost money,” he said.

Van Bramer said the bill already has 20 co-sponsors and the approval of all of the heads of the city’s three library systems.

“We are very excited to support this bill,” said Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Johnson joined Van Bramer for the announcement along with Queens Library CEO Tom Galante and John Hyslop, president of Local 1321 of the Queens Library Guild. While Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library, did not attend, he issued a statement of support for the measure as well.

Galante praised Van Bramer and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) for their support of the city’s libraries.

“We’re very fortunate to have great leadership in the City Council,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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