Sunset Park

Sunset Park Library wins ‘Oscar’

Branch is praised for outstanding service to immigrants

June 16, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Staff members from the Sunset Park Library happily accept their award. Linda E. Johnson (second row, third from right), president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, joined them at the awards gala. Photo by Gerri Hernandez
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The Sunset Park Library has won an Oscar! The Brooklyn library was one of six libraries around the city cited for outstanding service at the Third Annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards.

The awards have been nicknamed the “Oscars of the Libraries.”

Located at 5108 Fourth Ave., the Sunset Park Library was awarded $20,000 at a gala held on June 6 to celebrate libraries.

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The NYC Neighborhood Library Awards were established by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation to reward public libraries that go above and beyond their mission.

The Sunset Park Library was cited for, among other things, providing important free services to immigrants.

In addition to Sunset Park, awards were also presented to the Arverne and Glen Oaks libraries in Queens, the Inwood Library in Manhattan and the Morrisania and Jerome Park libraries in the Bronx.

“We are thrilled to honor these library branches as heroes in their communities,” said Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

The winning libraries offer everything from English classes for immigrants to after-school programs for at-risk youth, according to Sandorf , who said the institutions “play a critical role in shaping the lives of New Yorkers all across the city. “

To document the impact of the library branches on their surrounding communities, filmmakers Juliane Dressner and Nara Garber produced a series of two-minute documentaries on each of the winning branches.

The mini-documentaries featured stories of New Yorkers whose lives have been improved by libraries and their dedicated staff members.

The Sunset Park documentary focused on a man named Juan (no last name was given), who was described as a recent immigrant who hopes to take advantage of the free legal services at the library so he can bring his wife to the U.S.

Another library user, a student named Daniela, said she finds a variety of helpful services at her favorite branch.

“I’m from Dominican Republic, and I moved in New York in 2008. One of the best places for me and my brother to get resources, as new residents and immigrants, was the Sunset Park Library. Here we attended ESL classes, we used to come for computer classes and to use the internet to communicate with the rest of our family in DR. I thank God because my life can be enriched by having more learning experiences with all the books and services at the Sunset Park Library,” she said in a statement. 

ESL refers to English as a Second Language.

Five other libraries, including the Dyker Heights Library and the Kings Bay Library in Brooklyn, were named runners-up in the competition.

Sarah Needham, of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, cited programs such as the after-school programs, job search assistance, story-time and adult learning classes as being important offerings New York City residents seek out at their local libraries.

More than 19,000 New Yorkers nominated their local library to win an award this year, according to the competition’s organizers. The nominations were evaluated by foundation staff and an independent review committee. Site visits were conducted at potential finalist branches, and 10 finalists were chosen.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges that included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff; New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb; National Book Award finalist Angela Flournoy; Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director for the DC Public Library; and Peter Hatch, chief of staff to the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services.

 


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