QPL Immigration Specialist Wins the American Library Association’s Prestigious “I Love My Librarian” Award
Library’s New Americans Program Assistant Director Fred Gitner Recognized for Providing Outstanding Service to Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in Queens
QUEENS, NY– The American Library Association has honored Fred Gitner, the assistant director of Queens Public Library’s New Americans Program, with a coveted “I Love My Librarian Award” for his outstanding service to the public.
The awards, established in 2008 and sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and administered in partnership with The New York Public Library, recognize librarians nationwide. Gitner was one of 10 honorees selected from a pool of nearly 1,400 nominees chosen by library patrons for their efforts to promote literacy, expand access to technology, support mental health needs as well as diversity and inclusion in their communities. This year’s award recipients include three academic librarians, four public librarians and three school librarians. Each of the winners will receive a $5,000 cash prize.
At Queens Public Library, Gitner has driven positive social change for new Americans for nearly three decades, connecting them to education opportunities and resources they need to successfully acclimate to life in a new city and in a new country. And for more than a year, Gitner and his team have been instrumental in assisting the surging migrant population in Queens and beyond.
“As we welcome people from all over the world into our libraries, Fred serves as a chief ambassador,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “He and his team are deeply committed to assisting asylum seekers and immigrants coming through our doors, providing the support and resources they need to adjust to their lives in New York City.”
Gitner’s mentoring of current and aspiring librarians is a key focus of his efforts to increase the influence of the library. He also coordinates QPL’s international partnerships program which, along with facilitating the exchange of knowledge and library materials in other languages, offers opportunities for Library and Information Science students from abroad to participate in fieldwork assignments with QPL.
“Fred is always on the go and never misses a day to involve our library in helping new immigrants in our neighborhoods,” one nominator wrote. “It is truly amazing how one man can make a beautiful difference in the lives of new immigrants, their families, and his fellow library professionals.”
From “New Americans Corners” inside QPL branches filled with materials and a vast array of online resources to implementing live phone interpretation service in more than 240 languages at every QPL branch, Gitner’s team and the New Americans Program have been central in improving services for a community where half of residents were born outside the U.S.
“I am so honored to be recognized by my peers for the work we do every day to ensure that newcomers to Queens have the resources and services to help them adapt successfully to life in a new country and the opportunity to share their culture with the community-at-large in one of the most diverse areas in the world,” Gitner said.
“While much of the national conversation surrounding libraries has fixated on book censorship, and as library workers across the U.S. continue to face historic levels of intimidation and harassment, librarians’ efforts to empower their patrons and provide vital services for their communities shines a spotlight on the enduring value of libraries in our society,” said American Library Association President Emily Drabinski. “The inspiring stories of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award honorees demonstrate the positive impact librarians have on the lives of those they serve each day.”
Fred Gitner’s Bio
Gitner has been Assistant Director of New Initiatives and Partnership Liaison for the New Americans Program at Queens Public Library since 2015, after having served since 1996 in various administrative positions in the New Americans Program and International Relations. Prior to his arrival at Queens Public Library he was Library Director of the French Institute/Alliance Française in New York for over fifteen years. He received an A.B. in Modern Languages from Hamilton College, an M.A. in French from Middlebury College, and a Master’s Degree in Library Service from Rutgers University.
He is a co-editor of “Bridging Cultures: Ethnic Services in the Libraries of New York State” (2001) and “Connecting Cultures: Ethnic Services in the Libraries of New York State” (2013), both published by the New York Library Association (NYLA). He has published articles about library services for immigrants in professional journals in the United States, France and Spain, and has spoken on this topic at national and international conferences. He was a member of the Standing Committee of the Section on Services to Multicultural Populations of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) from 2009-2017, was co-chair of the Europe Subcommittee of the American Library Association’s International Relations Committee, has served on the Board of NYLA’s Ethnic Services Round Table as treasurer for a number of years, and is a Past-President of ESRT. He also serves as Treasurer for the American Society of the French Academic Palms (ASFAP) and the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) - NY Metropolitan Chapter.
Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Queens Public Library, firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Garcia, American Library Association, email@example.com
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in 50 languages, technology and digital resources. Each year, the Library hosts tens of thousands of online and in-person educational, cultural, and civic programs and welcomes millions of visitors through its doors. With a presence in nearly every neighborhood across the borough of Queens, the Library consists of 66 locations, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology center located in the nation’s largest public housing complex, five teen centers, two bookmobiles, and two book bicycles.
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.