He took a computer course at the branch sponsored by the Friends group, and when he learned more about the organization, he decided to join and help create programs for library users like himself.
“I think it’s important because it’s an educational tool,” Rankins said. “I was a former school teacher. I think it gives the community a lot more avenues for finding jobs, training and all kinds of activities to be involved.”
In the last few years, Rankins, who serves as an at-large member, has worked to create science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at the Flushing branch. They’ve also done successful language and computer programs.
One of the challenges the Friends group faces is keeping up with Flushing’s growing and diverse population.
“You try to come up with programs that everybody can participate in,” he said.
Another challenge is the finances, which is tough because they have to “compete with a lot of organizations,” Rankins said.
But Rankins recognizes the library’s importance to the community, which is why he strives to improve it. He’s especially happy about six-day service expanding to every branch in New York City.
“With this community, people are in the library everyday,” he said. “They hate to leave when it’s time to go.
“You come here in the morning, you see them standing around waiting to get in,” Rankins added. “You shut them out, they have nowhere else to go.”