Zahid learned the full value of a public library when he first came to the United States from Bangladesh in 1999. He said he spent a lot of time in libraries studying to become more proficient with the English language.
“As a new immigrant I came to this country and the first thing I did is I went to the central branch downtown,” he said. “I opened my first email account in the library back when I was planning to drive cabs.
“I already had the license, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do,” he contineud. “Incidentally, I asked if I can have a job at the library, and they said ‘Yes, you can have a part time job.’”
While working within the library system Zahid continued his own self-education, and eventually went on to complete a degree at Queens College.
All the while, his career within the library system was progressing, with Zahid moving from an assistant to a librarian and then as a manager’s assistant.
Now, as the manager at the Hollis Branch, Zahid has come to realize that in his community, where in recent years there has been a huge influx of south Asians, the need for a public library is as strong as it ever was.
“They come for the computers. If the library is closed they feel very frustrated,” Zahid said while a staff member helped a local youth write a resume and cover letter for a job application on one of the computer workstations at the newly renovated library.
“The best part about the library,” Zahid said, “is that in a library you can learn to do anything you want to do.”