Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thomas Galante, Director, Queens Borough Public Library

On July 23, 2007, Thomas Galante, the Director of the Queens Borough Public Library, presented to my class with Angel Huynh, the Director of Human Resources. His presentation was memorable partly because I knew so little about the work of librarians and partly because of his energetic presentation that also involved multimedia. There is no doubt that Tom enjoys his work and is pleased with the accomplishments at the Queens Borough Public Library.

There are 1800 employees with a budget of $115 to $120 million. The libraries are expanding to 6-day service with 7-day service in 16 libraries. They have a total of 63 libraries. The starting salary is $39,000 where after one year as a senior librarian, one can earn from $42,500 to $43,000. They lose 3 librarians a month out of 400 full-time positions. The also have half-time positions. An assistant manager made from $52,000 to $58,000 while a senior manager makes from the upper $50,000's to $60,000.

He discussed interviewing techniques and showed a short video produced three months earlier for recruiting. Tom, himself, was a student at Queens College only three and a half years ago although his career includes 22 years at the library starting in the finance area. He discussed the need to find people who fit. It is all about serving people. The benefits are good as they are in the NYS employment system so they have health benefits for life. You are vested in the system after 5 years. It is contributory for the first 10 years. You get 2% per year up to 66%. There is no age cut-off.

Language skills are very important. There are 63 libraries with 8 adult learning centers. They deal with people with 100 different languages. The web site is available in six languages. There are 4 research libraries with all the branches. Queens Borough Public Library is one of three library systems in New York City; the other two are Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library, which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

The Queens Borough Library system (as a multi-branch system) began in 1896. There was no civil service. It was 80% City funded and 8% to 10% NY State funded. The rest was private funding. $240,000 was given in 1901 by Andrew Carnegie for 8 libraries.

In the marketing department they have 13 people;
for the foundation, they have 8 people;
Cataloging has 15 to 20 people;
Preparation has 3 people (maybe that is 30);
Finance has CPA's;
There are four librarians doing web services;
The IT area has 45 people;
Programs and services has a lot of staff.

With a $5 million Cancer Society Grant, they began health screenings and books were provided for information on health topics.

They are planning to have "Smart shelves," which is an rfid system for checking the order of the books on the shelves. This eliminates bar codes and one person can take a reader and find and correct books out of order. The prices are dropping that make this system very feasible. This part really captured my imagination.

Tom gave each student in the class a CD with the recruiting video in a folder with lots of other information about the Queens Borough Library system. Here is their mission statement.

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