Local Bensonhurst library in running for award

The New Utrecht branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, as well as the Crown Heights branch, is a finalist in the fourth annual NYC Library Awards, meaning both stand a chance to win $20,000 in October along with recognition of its accomplishments.

Otherwise known as the “Oscars of Libraries,” this year’s awards includes a Perennial Excellence Award given to libraries that are consistent successful community pillars. Additionally, the ceremony marks the comeback of a third award called the Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth, with brings $20,000 in prize money with it.

Open from February to March of this year, nominations were based on program attendance, data on circulation, patrons’ nominations, visits to each location, and the recommendations of a philanthropic review committee.

As two of 10 finalists from across the city, both the New Utrecht and Crown Heights libraries are guaranteed $10,000. The 24,000 nominations were submitted by New Yorkers from all five boroughs, who wrote about their appreciation for local librarians and patrons who made a mission to improve the lives of the surrounding community.

Sonia, a volunteer at the New Utrecht branch, said, “In keeping with the times, our library has skillfully adapted to the change in demographics by modifying and adding events, classes and programs to embrace our new residents. The New Utrecht Library has provided an educational and welcoming space for cultural exchanges. The New Utrecht Library has truly brought our diversified community together as one.”

“I have been coming to the Crown Heights Library since I was seven years old,” said a 13-year-old named Sara, “This library is my favorite place, where I can come anytime and in any mood and always find something to cheer me up and make me happy. This library is shaping who I am, and I truly don’t know who I’d be without it.”

Over $40 million are needed for fixing infrastructure in the 10 finalist libraries, almost $5 million in the Crown Heights location alone. Despite their financial need, however, finalists in this year’s competition still provided a rigorous program for patrons which included language learning, job readiness classes, and of course, books.

This year, winning branches will be selected by a panel of judges which include Executive Director of the National Book Foundation Lisa Lucas, CEO of Chicago Public Library Brian Bannon, and authors Francine Prose, Min Jin Lee and Eric Klinenberg. The awards are an initiative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

The New Utrecht Library is at 1743 86th Street. The Crown Heights Library is at 560 New York Avenue.

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