Queens Library helping Rockaways get back on their feet

| brennison@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library
Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

Just days after Superstorm Sandy, the Queens Library set up temporary locations giving residents a place to go.

Flood waters crashed through the glass front of the Queens Library’s Peninsula branch during Sandy, turning its aisles into rivers and damaging books, videos and equipment. A similar scene could be found at the Arverne, Seaside and Broad Channel branches.

A month later, a temporary building is up and running in Arverne, while one is scheduled to be constructed at Peninsula, where a mobile library unit has been parked since the Friday after the storm.

“When the book bus pulled up in Peninsula after the storm, people were just walking the streets back and forth, they didn’t know where to start,” said Joanne King, Queens Library’s director of communications.

In the days following the storm, residents were able to visit the temporary locations — and Far Rockaway, which avoided significant damage — to speak with librarians who aided them in applying for benefits, FEMA aid and temporary jobs. Best Buy donated laptop computers and printers for Arverne’s temporary location.

“The library really felt that it was our duty to be there,” King said.

The Broad Channel branch is scheduled to open by the end of January, but the other three branches remain without a timetable. The library estimates it sustained $6.5 million in capital damage during the storm, to go along with the more than 100,000 books and videos that were destroyed.

The library is also facing a $2.7 million cut in the mayor’s proposed midyear budget, which is yet to be passed.

To get back on its feet, King said the library will be relying on emergency campaigns from the Queens Library Foundation. Residents who want to donate to the library can do so by visiting www.queenslibraryfoundation.org.