The Queens Library is the no. 1 library system in the country, with 20.2 million items in circulation in fiscal year 2006, according to a report released by the Public Library Association yesterday. The library saw an increase to 21 million circulated items in fiscal year 2007, which ended on June 30.
The library's director, Thomas Galante, credited the importance the library places on programming, staff training, and having a strong community presence in Queens' diverse neighborhoods for the high circulation rate.
"We have people who are hungry for information," Mr. Galante said. "Our business is to be a community-based organization, so we do a lot of work to focus on that."
The library sees 55,000 visitors daily across its 63 branches and provides 6.6 million items for loan to its 2.2 million residents. Popular titles are offered in 30 languages. It also offers nearly 22,000 programs on topics ranging from traditional storytelling and literacy classes to programs about public health, yoga, and cultural arts.
A Queens Village resident who was using the computer terminals at the central branch in Jamaica yesterday, Anthony Connor, 18, said he tries to come to the library daily to read, study, or attend an art or Japanese animé class.
"I come out here for the books on computers," Mr. Connor, who said he hopes to become a computer engineer, said.
The library also caters to the borough's diverse immigrant population, Mr. Galante said, with specific programs geared toward English literacy and living in America. Queens residents "are the kind of people that have decided to pursue the American dream," he said. "We do a lot of work to help them acclimate."
The Multnomah County Public Library in Portland, Ore., had the country's second highest circulation, with 19.6 million items for its 693,000 residents. With its 17 branches, the Portland system had the highest circulation for the previous four years, a spokeswoman said.
The Brooklyn and New York public libraries each circulated nearly 15.9 million items and were ranked sixth and seventh on the list, respectively. While the New York Public Library serves residents in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the Queens and Brooklyn libraries were created before New York City's five boroughs unified in 1898, therefore these libraries remain separate nonprofit organizations.
Correction from August 15, 2007:
Sixth is the ranking of Brooklyn's public library system in a report released by the Public Library Association. The ranking was misstated in an article on page 4 of yesterday's Sun. Library director is the title of Thomas Galante. His title was misstated.