Elected officials gathered at the Queens Library at Far Rockaway on Wednesday to announce that the $29.75 million project to completely rebuild the structure is underway.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Donovan Richards secured more than $6 million in capital funding for the project and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz added more than $21 million over several years. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Mayor Bill de Blasio also contributed funding to rebuild the 47-year-old library at 1637 Central Ave.
“Libraries make a difference in the lives of many New Yorkers, and this City Council is proud to support the Queens Library in their plans to rebuild and improve the Far Rockaway branch,” Mark-Viverito said. “From serving as a hub for education, communal activity, and access to services, to providing Internet access for those who don’t have it at home, libraries are a pillar of communities across the five boroughs.”
The accompanying teen library annex located on Cornaga Avenue and Beach 20th Street will act as the temporary location when the structure is demolished in the fall. The library will reopen in 2019.
According to a statement from Snohetta, the architecture firm responsible for the new design, the exterior will be made up of colored glass with a gradient resembling the sky off the Long Island coast.
The new library will feature separate children’s, teen and adult library spaces on two levels, accommodate community meetings, include literary services and encourage after-school study. The library will also offer job skills training services, and career and entrepreneur resources for community members.
“The Far Rockaway library is a necessary and vital element of our community that provides necessary resources that help residents find employment, study for exams and learn new skills,” Richards said. “A new fully-loaded library will help our neighborhood reach that next level as we continue to bring in added resources and opportunities to ensure our residents acquire the essential tools for success.”
To celebrate the announcement, the Queens Library hosted a book bag giveaway that day and provided 300 students with book bags for the upcoming school year.
The Queens Library at Far Rockaway played an important role in the area’s recovery following Hurricane Sandy, providing a place for residents to receive supplies like bottled water, food and batteries. Though there was no heat or light at the library for several days, people gathered at the makeshift relief center for information and help.
“The Far Rockaway community depends on their public library for so many things: technology access, job readiness services, small business resources, educational materials and programs for all ages,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of Queens Library. “They have long outgrown the current facility. Now, thanks to the generous support of Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Donovan Richards and Assembly Member Phillip Goldfeder, a new, state-of-the-art library is on its way.”