Queens Library turns page on the past with new name, focus

“We want to make clear who we are, what we aspire to be and what people can expect from us,” library President Dennis Walcott says.

Queens’ library system wants to make it crystal clear who’s in charge — starting with its name.

The busy network is changing its official moniker to Queens Public Library, after several years of just being known as the Queens Library, effective April 2.

It might seem like a small tweak, but Dennis Walcott, president of the library, said the move is part of a larger effort to meet the needs of its customers in the diverse and growing borough.

“We want to make clear who we are, what we aspire to be and what people can expect from us whenever they walk into one of our locations,” Walcott said in a statement. “We added ‘public’ back to our name to reinforce who is at the center of our work and to whom the library belongs.”

More than 11.4 million people visited the library in fiscal year 2018, which offers an array of educational programs for youngsters and adults. Circulation during that same time period was 12.4 million.

The library will increase training for staffers, tackling issues such as bias and lack of inclusion to better serve customers who hail from a large array of cultural backgrounds.

Employees at each of the 65 branches will have tablets with Google Translate and its new website can be viewed in more than 80 languages.

The changes come almost five years after former CEO Thomas Galante was fired for lavish spending on items such as food, liquor and entertainment. Galante argued the spending was justified and mounted a prolonged legal battle.

Walcott, a well-respected former city schools chancellor and deputy mayor, took over in 2016 and has overseen a top-to-bottom overhaul of the senior staff. The Board of Trustees has also been changed since Galante’s tenure.

The library system, which was also once known as the Queens Borough Public Library, is also changing its logo and color from the current yellow and orange open book image to a geometric Q, orange on a purple background.

Walcott has pledged to visit all of the library’s 65 locations over the next 65 days to meet the public and discuss the new initiatives.

“We are upholding a promise that requires us to define how we think about our role in fulfilling the public’s needs, how the public perceives us and the experience we are committed to delivering,” Walcott said.

Lisa L. Colangelo