Dyker Heights

Brooklyn libraries in the running for $20,000 prizes

April 13, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Dyker Heights Library has been nominated for the award because of its service to patrons. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Three Brooklyn libraries are among the finalists for the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards and will be vying for top prizes of $20,000, sponsors announced.

The Dyker Library at 8202 13th Ave., the Sunset Park Library at 5108 Fourth Ave. and the Kings Bay Library at 3650 Nostrand Ave. have all been nominated for Neighborhood Library Awards, known as the Oscars for libraries.

The awards are an initiative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The nominations are submitted by New Yorkers who use libraries. The factors that go into the nominations include the level of service provided at the branch, including free programs, access to resources and friendliness of the staff.

The nomination period opened in November of 2015 and ended in December. The nominations were evaluated by foundation staff and an independent review committee, focusing on libraries that demonstrated a commitment to the needs of their neighborhoods. Site visits were also conducted. 

The awards generated approximately 19,000 nominations from library users, according to the sponsors.

There are 10 finalists for the awards. In addition to the three Brooklyn branches, the finalists include Aguilar Library in East Harlem, Arverne Library in Queens, Far Rockaway Library in Queens, Fort Washington Library in Washington Heights, Glen Oaks Library in Queens, Inwood Library in Manhattan and Morrisania Library in the Bronx.

A group of judges will pick five winning branches for the $20,000 prize. The remaining finalists will receive $10,000 each. The panel of judges includes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff, New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, National Book Award finalist Angela Flournoy, DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan, and de Blasio administration Senior Adviser Peter Hatch.

The winners will be announced in June.

Patrons of the Dyker Library said they’re not surprised it has been nominated. One woman, who serves as a volunteer at the branch, said the staff is impeccable.

“One of the most uplifting and moving experiences I had [was] when witnessing a staff member patiently and kindly teach an 85-year-old man, a novice who never used a computer before, how to access the Internet and set up his very first email account. That moment is but one example exemplifying why the Dyker Branch is so valuable to this neighborhood. Beyond the practical, some residents have their world opened up because of the quality of services provided there,” she said.

The awards ceremony will also include a prize to be handed out by the Heckscher Foundation for Children. The foundation is offering the Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth to one library branch. The winner of the Heckscher Prize, to be announced with the other winners at the June ceremony, will receive a prize of $20,000 to spend on its branch.

The New Lots Library at 655 New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn won a Neighborhood Library Award last year. The library used the prize money to purchase new technology and launched an entrepreneurial series for teens.

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