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Queens librarian wins national “I Love My Librarian Award” for helping migrants

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Fred Gitner, a dedicated librarian with nearly three decades of service at the Queens Public Library, has been bestowed with the esteemed “I Love My Librarian Award” by the American Library Association. Recognizing Gitner’s exceptional commitment to assisting migrants, the award highlights his tireless efforts to go beyond conventional library services.

Situated in the serene surroundings of Central Library in Jamaica, Queens, Gitner has been instrumental in curating the international section and is fluent in both English and French. Given that almost half of Queens’ residents are born outside the U.S., Gitner’s impact is particularly significant. His dedication to addressing the needs of the diverse immigrant population is evident through the library’s New Americans Program.

In a statement, Gitner expressed his surprise at receiving the award, emphasizing that the recognition extends to his entire team. Nick Buron, Chief Librarian at Queens Public Library, commended Gitner’s decades-long commitment, noting that investing in immigrants is crucial for the future of New York City.

Gitner’s initiatives include the creation of a translation service for users to connect with librarians via phone, as well as the implementation of programs such as citizenship classes, English courses, and workshops covering immigration law, mental health, and tenants’ rights. Notably, English class attendance witnessed a 35% surge in 2023, with over 62,000 attendees across the library’s 66 locations.

Emphasizing the gratification derived from improving the lives of immigrants in Queens, Gitner has recently focused on aiding newcomers from Central and South America and West Africa. The American Library Association acknowledged Gitner’s role in driving positive social change for new Americans.

Gitner, who was awarded a $5,000 cash prize, expressed his intention to donate a portion to his favorite charities and use the remainder for travel. Furthermore, he highlighted his commitment to mentoring the next generation of librarians, ensuring a lasting legacy of service for years to come.

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