I Love My Librarian » Fred Gitner
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Assistant Director of New Initiatives and Partnership Liaison, New Americans Program
Queens Public Library
Jamaica, New York

At Queens Public Library (QPL) in the nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse county, Fred Gitner has been driving positive social change for new Americans seeking support for nearly three decades.

As a long line of asylum seekers waits outside the library’s doors each morning to apply for identification cards, Gitner’s team works through the New Americans Program to connect them to education opportunities and resources they need to successfully acclimate to life in New York and the United States more broadly. From “New Americans Corners” inside QPL branches filled with materials and a vast array of online resources to live phone interpretation service in more than 240 languages at every branch, Gitner has been central in improving services for a community where half of residents were born outside the US.


Gitner’s mentoring of current and aspiring librarians is a key focus of his efforts to increase the influence of the library. One QPL mentee noted that Gitner’s guidance fostered her career growth and vision for extending the library’s workshops and cultural activities in Bengali, which in turn helped expand services to the county’s expanding Bangladeshi community. Gitner also coordinates QPL’s international partnerships program which, along with facilitating the exchange of knowledge and library materials in other languages, offers opportunities for LIS 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.”

Gitner was selected from nearly 1,400 nominations from library users nationwide for the 2024 award. As part of his award, he will receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as complimentary registration and a travel stipend to attend ALA's LibLearnX event in Baltimore.

The I Love My Librarian Award is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional support from the New York Public Library, and is administered by the American Library Association. Since 2008, library users have shared more than 24,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities.

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