The Queens Library in Jamaica is helping kids “discover” their true potential.
The library, located at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, unveiled its new, state-of-the-art Helen M. Marshall Children’s Library Discovery Center on September 15. Among the honorary guests at the unveiling were the center’s namesake, Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Leroy Comrie and surprise guest “Discover-E,” a life-sized robot who entertained children and adults alike with his humor and advanced technological features.
“This unique library is one for the modern age,” said Marshall, who provided over $17 million of the $30.3 million necessary to construct the 25,000-square-foot addition. “Clearly, it is not only a library, but a museum and school that will awaken interests and open new vistas and opportunities for children in search of knowledge and wonder. It will be a borough-wide resource for generations to come. I am delighted that the dream of opening this facility is now a reality and look forward to working with the Queens Library as we focus on helping all children achieve their potential.”
The Jamaica branch now boasts the unique distinction of being the only public library in the country that combines a conventional reading environment with interactive museum exhibits. The center, which is designed for kids between the ages of three and 12, is also original because it does not lighten your wallet. It is the only free children’s educational area in the city that emphasizes science, technology, math and engineering, and it is open seven days a week.
“The opening of the new Children’s Library Discovery Center at the Central Queens Library provides an opportunity for kids to have access to state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and learning labs with skilled professionals to guide them,” said Van Bramer. “Encouraging literacy especially at an early age is an issue I have fought for in the City Council and will continue to do so. When I was a child I loved to visit my local library and read. With the new Children’s Library Discovery Center, kids will have many more options that enhance their ability to research, explore and problem solve.”
Among the facility’s many attractions are computers with educational games, hands-on scientific exhibits, such as identifying the various parts of a cell or using magnifiers to examine insects, and an aquarium with live fish. The library also has a “Discovery Team,” composed mostly of college students, who work with children on experiments.
The center’s most popular feature is located at its entrance. Visitors are greeted by an interactive floor map of Queens, which has motion-activated sound effects positioned at numerous borough landmarks. Walking past JFK International Airport releases the thundering sound of a plane taking off and stepping on the Mets logo discharges the cheers of a Citi Field crowd.
The educational area is designed to make children feel comfortable while they learn. The chairs are meant to lounge on, making them drastically different from those found in schools. The upper level of the building has numerous windows, allowing children to read next to a vista of their neighborhood while engulfed in natural sunlight.
“This is my favorite library,” said Kareena Singh, 8. “It is a really nice place to be. You get to read books and there are games that are actually educational for kids. I love it. It is a great center to learn in.”