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Secret Santa grants Queens library $1M gift

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A Secret Santa delivered a $1 million gift to the Queens Borough Public Library on behalf of an anonymous donor last week.

The library received the $1 million check from a third-party financial services company via an overnight express delivery firm in reply to an emergency fund-raising campaign to help the system weather harsh budget cuts from the city, said Thomas Galante, interim library director.

“Our organization was established through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie a century ago,” he said in a statement. “We are a beacon for those who want to improve their lives using our resources for self-learning. We don’t know who our Secret Santa is, but on behalf of the people of Queens, we are profoundly grateful.”

The donation was delivered, unannounced, in an overnight express envelope, according to the release from the library. It was sent from a financial services firm acting on behalf of an anonymous client.

The gift was made in response to the library’s emergency fund-raising campaign, which was kicked off by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in May. The initiative has now topped $4.4 million toward the $9 million three-year goal, the release said.

Along with the city’s other library systems, Queens Library has been hit hard by budget cuts. In Queens, the institution has suffered a $10 million loss in funding since 2002, the release said. The library has had to reduce service hours, cut back programs and outreach services and trim the purchase of new books and other materials, according to the release.

The anonymous $1 million gift has already been earmarked for new materials, Galante said.

“It will allow us to purchase 100,000 new books that we could not have afforded otherwise,” he said. “They will include books for children, including homework help materials, new reference materials for people to find the information they need in their personal lives and their businesses and new copies of the best sellers that our customers love so much. With this generous gift, we hope that other library supporters step forward to help us so we can help those who want to help themselves.”

Last month the Queens Borough Public Library system and its 63 branches were awarded a $2 million grant as part of a larger donation from the Wallace Foundation. The foundation, established by Reader’s Digest founders DeWitt and Lila Wallace to support learning and enrichment opportunities, gave a total of $6 million to the city’s three library systems to expand their core programs that help students during non-school hours.

The Queens Library was slated to get $2 million, while the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library systems were to also get $2 million each.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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