Queens Borough President Melinda Katz today praised members of the state Assembly who yesterday voted 132 to 0 in favor of legislation that would reform the governance structure of the Queens Library and require the Library to adopt best practice reforms aimed at increasing the transparency of the Library’s operations.
The measure was introduced by Assembly member Jeffrion Aubry and is known as Bill Number A. 9217-B. An identical Senate version (Bill Number S.6893-B) introduced by state Senator Michael Gianaris must now be passed by the Senate before the bill can be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
“I am very pleased that the Queens Library reform measure sponsored by Assembly member Aubry was approved by the Assembly without opposition,” Borough President Katz said. “It is a sensible measure that would dramatically improve the governance and oversight of the Queens Library and help guarantee that it remains one of our borough’s most treasured institutions for many years to come.”
“I commend Assembly member Aubry for the hard work and dedication he put into drafting and advancing the legislation and I thank all of the Assembly members who voted in favor of it,” the Borough President added. “I look forward to the bill’s approval in the Senate before the current legislative session ends next week.”
The legislation was written in response to several ongoing investigations into the Queens Library’s financial and governance practices and is intended to restore full public trust in the management of the Queens Library, which has been serving the people of Queens for more than 100 years and is almost entirely funded by taxpayer dollars.
The measure would improve the accountability of the Library’s Board of Trustees by:
- Reforming the appointment and removal structure of the Board of Trustees so that a Trustee can be removed by the official who appointed him or her. (That official would either be the Mayor or the Queens Borough President)
- Reducing the term by which a Trustee serves from five years to three years and require that Trustees either be residents of the borough of Queens or own or operate a business in the borough of Queens.
- Reforming the current administrative committee structure by which the Board of Trustees oversees the Library’s president and other library personnel and replace it with an executive committee comprised of a broader cross -section of the Board’s membership.
The bill would also require the Queens Library to institute other significant best practice reforms. These would include the creation of an independent audit committee to oversee the Library's accounting and financial reporting process and the creation of a labor committee to address labor issues and the contracting out of services.