Library Partners With Grocery Store to Buy Books Amid Budget Cuts
QUEENS — A library branch that's seen its book budget slashed by more than 70 percent is partnering with a local Key Food — asking for donations from customers to help the library add to its stocks.
The Richmond Hill Branch's allocation for new books dropped to $7,000 this fiscal year, down from $25,000 last year, prompting the partnership with the supermarket check-out, a library official said.
The cut comes as the president and CEO of the Queens Public Library, Thomas Galante, is under fire for his $390,000 salary. Galante is also facing questions from the FBI and the city's Department of Investigation about a contractor that worked on the $10 million overhaul of the library's main branch in Jamaica.
Starting this month and continuing until mid May, customers at the Lefferts Boulevard store, just off of Jamaica Avenue, will be able to make a donation for new books, ranging from $1 to $5, each time they check out.
As a token of thanks, the patrons' names will be displayed in the store for a month.
Rebecca Alibatya, manager of the Richmond Hill branch, said her library's book budget was reduced to $7,000 this fiscal year, down from $25,000 in 2013.
“It can’t even last for three months,” Alibatya said.
She said the store’s owner, Mark D'Urso, has been helping the library for the past three years, donating more than $6,500 out of his own pocket, enabling the purchase of hundreds of books for children and young adults, Alibatya said.
Now, they want the entire community's support.
Alibatya said the number of patrons at the library, which serves Richmond Hill and Kew Gardens, continues to grow with 100,000 patrons served since July 2013, about five percent more than during the same time last year. She also said the library serves more than 100 children a day.
Mark D'Urso was not available for comment.