Carnegie Corporation Awards $5 Million Grant to New York City’s Public Library Systems

Grantees in this story

Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, today announced a grant of $5 million to the three New York City public library systems: the New York Public Library, Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library. The grant will enhance the libraries’ ability to serve the public in general and the city’s 1.1 million public school children in particular.   

The grant will help to enrich and expand the library systems’ resources for all New Yorkers, including hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the city, who depend on the library for free access to information and knowledge.   It will also strengthen the long-standing collaboration between New York City’s public libraries and its public schools. The more than 200 branch libraries  throughout the city’s five boroughs provide invaluable learning resources—not to mention access to computers and other technology—that offer educational opportunities to a diverse and ever-growing student population beyond what may be available to them in the classroom.  

“Our City’s libraries are vital to learning and literacy, and they serve as anchors of our communities,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “This generous gift is an investment in New York City’s intellectual capital, and it will allow our libraries to further their important work and continue serving as an invaluable resource for all New Yorkers.” 

Today’s grant brings to approximately $15 million the amount of funding provided by Carnegie Corporation to the city’s public library systems over the past 14 years. 

Commenting on the special grant made during the Corporation’s Centennial year, Vartan Gregorian, who led the New York Public Library from 1981-1989, said, “New York City is truly the crossroads of the world. At this intersection of education, experience and learning stands the city’s great libraries, which provide equal and free access to knowledge for all. There is no greater expression of democracy than a library and no stronger signifier of the potential of our nation to succeed in today’s challenging times. Carnegie Corporation is proud to support New York City’s libraries, which embody Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world.” 

Further, said Gregorian, ”It is essential that New York City strive for excellence in its public education and in its library systems.  Democracy and excellence are not mutually exclusive; public institutions like our libraries can have both high visibility and high standards. The Library’s cause is and must be everybody’s cause.”

"This grant is yet another dramatic step to keep alive the legacy of Andrew Carnegie and one of his greatest gifts, as well as the leadership legacy of Carnegie's current president, Vartan Gregorian," said NYPL President Anthony Marx. "This critical funding brings all of New York together behind a great goal - to ensure and project learning in our communities, a fundamental purpose of the library is as a bedrock of democracy."

Commenting on the Corporation’s grant, Thomas W. Galante, President and CEO, Queens Library said, "Queens Library is an anchor of lifelong learning for children and adults, supporting schools and education in and out of the classroom. Future generations will be grateful for the Carnegie Corporation's vision and support, as they have been since Andrew Carnegie created the Queens Library more than a century ago."  

Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library said,  “Carnegie is synonymous with public libraries; the gift announced today will enable Brooklyn Public Library to enhance its educational and literacy programs to help all New Yorkers unlock the mystery and wonders of the worlds around them. It will help them build a foundation to succeed in school and in their careers and to contribute to society as citizens and leaders in every conceivable way.”  

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world." 

About the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers—housed, respectively, in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library—and 90 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 65 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website,

About the Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library is an independent New York City library system serving the borough of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest in the United States. Every resident of Brooklyn lives within a half-mile of a Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) location. BPL consists of the landmarked Central Library, a Business Library, and 58 neighborhood libraries. Eighteen libraries are historic Carnegie Buildings. BPL also serves adult learners through five learning centers. Brooklyn Public Library serves the borough's 2.5 million residents, offering thousands of public programs, millions of books and use of more than 1,100 free Internet-accessible computers. You can reach the Library's resources of over 70 reference databases, catalog information and news 24 hours a day at 

About the Queens Library

The Queens Library serves 2.2 million people from 62 locations plus seven Adult Learning Centers and two Family Literacy Centers. It has circulated among the highest number of books and other library materials in the country since 1994, and is the second largest public library in the U.S. in terms of size of collections.  Queens Library views fulfilling its role as a primary destination and information as extending beyond merely lending books and other library materials. An ever-changing roster of needed programs currently includes hiring high school and college students to help library customers use technology or to tutor children, providing expanded literacy services to adults, after-school programming, museum-worthy Gallery exhibits and more. These special programs fall outside the scope of the public funding stream. In 1986, the Queens Library Foundation was established to raise supplementary funds from private, corporate and foundation sources. In 2006, the Queens Library Foundation raised more than $1.8 million.