The collection is the first of its kind at the library and representatives from the library as well as community leaders are hoping that it resonates significantly with residents of the Richmond Hill neighborhood, many of whom are of Indo-Caribbean descent.
The collection was made possible by a collaboration between the Queens Library and the Richmond Hill based, Indo-Caribbean Alliance.
“It’s important because it’s a reflection of the majority of the community,,” said Leslie Dann, the community library manager at the Lefferts branch. “We never really had anything tailored to the Indo-Caribbean experience.”
Tom Galante, the president and CEO of the Queens Library was on hand at the unveiling last Saturday and was proud of the collection. He hopes it continues to grow.
“ICA did a tremendous amount of outreach during Census 2010 and we found that many people, especially Indo-Caribbeans, were not able to "check off a single box". Some of the responses included West Indian, East Indian, Black, American Indian, etc.,” said Richard David, the executive director of the ICA.
“This project, in a small yet tangible way, helps to foster a common identifier. It also provides the general public with access to information about this community to help build bridges and greater understanding,” he added.
The collection features over 100 titles on politics, colonialism in the Caribbean, food, philosophy, cultural issues, poetry and music among many others.
The ICA started compiling a book and media list around March 2011.
“Between then and now, we raised over $3,000 for the project and built a strong relationship with Queens Library. They were very helpful partner in the process,” David said.
The Queens Library and the ICA plan to continue to work together to update and expand the Collection at Lefferts and throughout the public library system.
“It was definitely a challenge to rise to the occasion and answer this call but we were able to help with part donation part purchasing through material budget here at Lefferts,” said Jennifer Manley, director of government and community affairs.
To allow the collection to grow, the Queens Library Foundation is offering a match for donations.
Now throughout the end of January, the foundation will match dollar for dollar any book that anyone donates through the library’s long-standing campaign to build the shelves, the Buy-a-Book program, which will in turn support the Indo-Caribbean collection at the library.
“Creating a special collection located at the Lefferts Branch in Richmond Hill, the center of New York's Indo-Caribbean community, is intended to give residents easy access to the rich and diverse history, culture and experiences of the Indo-Caribbean community,” David said.
“We want people to know the collection is there and for them to utilize it. Getting shelf space at the Library is a precious commodity and maintaining it will depend on how many people used the collection,” he added.