Tag Archives: Queens Library

$3M more invested into Hunters Point Community Library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City community has fought for over a decade to get a library, and now its dream has started to become a reality — all with a little help from its friends.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined Queens Library Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey, other library representatives and local leaders on the LIC waterfront Tuesday afternoon to announce he had secured an additional $3 million toward the construction of the Hunters Point Community Library.

From the additional $3 million, $1 million comes from Van Bramer’s discretionary funds in this year’s budget and the other $2 million came over from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“No one ever gave up on this project because we knew how important it was,” said Van Bramer, who has been working on getting the library built for the past 15 years and whose office has allocated a total of $6 million in funds. “This was my number one priority when I ran for office. It was my number one priority in my first year as a City Council member when we allocated those previous $3 million with the help of our previous speaker, and once again we come back to this project which I have never given up on and it’s one of my most proud moments.”

The state-of-the-art library, expected to be completed by the fall of 2017, will be the first neighborhood branch built in Queens in more than 20 years and was designed by architect Steven Holl. Its main interior circulation route will be cut into the west façade, opening up views to the East River and Manhattan skyline.

During Tuesday’s announcement, the Queens Library also presented a model of the new $33 million branch, which broke ground in May and will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue.

“It is an exciting day to see this rising and to know that this community will have a library. A public library is the heart of a community, heart of a neighborhood and this is such a thriving, robust, wonderful community that has wanted a library for so long,” Quinn-Carey said.

The 21,500-square-foot facility will feature a reading garden, a rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, a performance space and a children’s area. Van Bramer also said inside the library there will be a tribute to LIC resident Fausta Ippolito, who passed away four years ago, but for years actively fought for the library to be brought to the community.

Along with the construction of the library, the project will also include the construction of the permanent 1,260-square-foot ranger station at Gantry Plaza State Park. The building will include a reception area, a park manager’s office and bathrooms for the public.

“This building, this library, which some folks thought it would never happen, is rising. It is actually happening and I’m so enormously happy,” Van Bramer said. “This library is going to be one of the most beautiful, one of the most architecturally significant libraries not only in Queens but in the city, if not the nation, and we’re going to be so proud to call that library the Hunters Point Community Library.”

Construction is underway at the future site of the Hunters Point Community Library.

Construction is underway at the future site of the Hunters Point Community Library.

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What to do in Queens this weekend and beyond


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

The local libraries in Queens are offering events throughout the summer, including film screenings, skill-building classes and kid-centric activities.

Saturday, July 25

Edwin Vasquez and James Grover perform jazzy and spicy-but-romantic boleros and popular standards in English and Spanish at the Broadway library. There are performed by composers such as Rafael Hernandez, Consuelo Velazquez, Roberto Cantoral, Johnny Mercer and Ruth Etting. Registration is not required. 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Broadway library, 40-20 Broadway, Long Island City. For more information, contact 718-721-2462.

The “Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival” will have Susanne Lofaso and Vincent Roccaro taking you on a musical journey from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll through the era of classic rock at the Bayside library. There will be songs by Elvis, the Beatles and Van Morrison. 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. 214-20 Northern Blvd., Bayside. For more information, contact 718-229-1834.

The Fresh Meadows library will be showing the film “Mortdecai.” This 2015 film is about a roguish art dealer who searches for a stolen painting that could hold the code to a lost Nazi bank account that’s rife with riches. The film stars Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany. This film is rated R. 2:30 to 4:15 p.m. Fresh Meadows library, 193-20 Horace Harding Expy., Fresh Meadows. For more information, contact 718-454-7272.

Sunday, July 26

This Sunday’s movie is the film “Black Sea.” The movie is about a rogue submarine captain who accepts a lucrative offer to seek out a missing treasure in the Black Sea, despite the sneaking suspicion that he may be double crossed in his adventure. The film stars Jude Law and Scoot McNairy, and is directed by Kevin Macdonald. 2 to 4 p.m. Central library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica. For more information, contact 718-990-0700.

Monday, July 27

The Flushing Cancer Action Council Meeting is for anyone interested in discussing the health of your community. If you would like to be a part of the conversation to plan health-related programs and interventions, it’s definitely worth stopping by. 1 to 2:30 p.m. Flushing library, 41-17 Main St., Flushing. For more information, contact 718-661-1200.

Learn about the many ways you can use your Google account. Basic computer skills and an existing Google account are required. Pre-register online at jobmap.queenslibrary.org, or call 718-990-8625 for additional information. The class code is CC240. 10 a.m. to noon. Central library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica. For more information, contact 718-990-0700.

New York Cares is an adult program that will be offering an orientation meeting to recruit volunteers. Registration is not required. 3 to 4 p.m. Forest Hills library, 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills. For more information, contact 718-268-7934.

There will be a teen hygiene class for boys to learn about good hygiene and how it relates to good health. This workshop will teach you all about health, and is for teen guys only! Registration is not required. 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Ave., Far Rockaway. For more information, contact 718-471-2573.

Superhero Nutrition will teach children why good food choices help them grow and be strong. For children ages 5 and up. Registration is not required. 4 to 5 p.m. Cambria Heights library, 218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights. For more information, contact 718-528-3535.

Tuesday, July 28

The annual Summer Reading Jeopardy match is back at the Flushing library! Teens will have the opportunity to answer a variety of fun trivia questions and win prizes. Registration is not required. 4 to 5 p.m. 41-17 Main St., Flushing. For more information, contact 718-661-1200.

There will be a class offered on job search strategies for the mature adult. This class will define what a mature worker is, explain the obstacles they may face, and suggest how and where to search for jobs. Pre-register online at jobmap.queenslibrary.org, or call 718-990-8625 for additional information. The class code is JR100. 10 a.m. to noon. Central library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica. For more information, contact 718-990-0700.

Come join to create a tie-dyed T-shirt! Please bring your own plain, white T-shirt. Registration is not required, and this event is for children. 3 to 4 p.m. Richmond Hill library, 118-14 Hillside Ave., Richmond Hill. For more information, contact 718-849-7150.

There will be a teen hygiene class for girls to learn about good hygiene and how it relates to good health. This workshop will teach you all about health, and is for teen girls only! Registration is not required. 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Ave., Far Rockaway. For more information, contact 718-471-2573.

Wednesday, July 29

Children ages 4 through 12 will be able to participate in summer arts and crafts at the Bay Terrace library. The crafts will be related to the summer reading theme. Parents and adult caregivers are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. 3 to 4 p.m. 18-36 Bell Blvd., Bayside. For more information, contact 718-423-7004.

Adults will learn the basics of computer use at Computers for Beginners at the Windsor Park library. Pre-registration and a valid Queens Library card are required. 10:30 a.m. to noon. 79-50 Bell Blvd., Bayside. For more information, contact 718-468-8300.

A film screening of “The Forger” will be taking place at the Douglaston/Little Neck library. The movie is about a thief, his father and his son who are planning the heist of their lives when they attempt to forge a Monet painting and steal the original in his film starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan. This film was released in 2014, and is rated R. 3 to 4:30 p.m. 249-01 Northern Blvd., Little Neck. For more information, contact 718-225-8414.

Thursday, July 30

Summer movies will be shown throughout the summer at the Glen Oaks library. All features are rated PG-13, unless otherwise indicated. The film shown this week will be “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” which was released in 2014. 2 to 4:30 p.m. 256-04 Union Tpke., Glen Oaks. For more information, contact 718-831-8636.

Family Game Day at the Bay Terrace library is for everyone ages 4 and up to work on puzzles together or play various board games. You can work on jigsaw puzzles or play checkers and chess. There will also be board games like Life, Candyland and Monopoly. 3 to 4 p.m. 18-36 Bell Blvd., Bayside. For more information, contact 718-423-7004.

Summer Superhero Films will be taking place at the Bellerose library. Feel free to bring your own popcorn. All films are rated PG, unless otherwise indicated. The film shown this week will be “The Incredibles,” which was released in 2004. 2 to 4 p.m. 250-06 Hillside Ave., Bellerose. For more information, contact 718-831-8644.

Summer reading crafts will have you enjoying a fun variety of craft programs. This will be taking place for teens every Thursday afternoon this summer. Registration is not required. 3 to 4 p.m. Flushing library, 41-17 Main St., Flushing. For more information, contact 718-661-1200.

Story Book Time is for school-age children and their caregivers or guardians to listen to some stories. The children are invited to read one to us as well! 4 to 5 p.m. Howard Beach library, 92-06 156th Ave., Howard Beach. For more information, contact 718-641-7086.

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Ridgewood library brought thousands of visitors to June events


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan's office

Ridgewood’s local library is the place to be this summer.

The Ridgewood library attracted over 5,400 visitors with its regular and special programs last month. In addition, the Ridgewood branch is fourth in the library system in the number of programs offered and the number of people who visit the library, according to Joanne King, the director of communications for the Queens Library.

Three events in June helped catapult the Ridgewood branch to these strong numbers.

The first was Fun Day at the Library, which took place on June 20. Volunteers from the Friends of the Ridgewood Library (FORL) and students from Christ the King High School in Middle Village helped set up 39 tables for the flea market-style event.

Fun Day at the Library was an important factor in the future funding of the library. The money raised will help bolster the library’s collections and programs.

“We were so grateful to the hundreds of people who bought items and those who donated items and those who helped us sell the items,” said Thomas Dowd, president of FORL. “We raised about $1,200. That money will help us improve the library.”

The event brought out 27 vendors, local civic organizations, members of the fire department and face painters for the children. Another part of Fun Day at the Library was a telecast from Lincoln Center. This kind of telecast for world-class performers comes to only two libraries in Queens, Ridgewood being one of them.

“Because of our donations to the collection and the active pursuit of programming opportunities by our librarian, Vesna Simon, the Ridgewood branch is considered a principal library in the Queens System,” Dowd said.

Another well-attended Ridgewood library event was the “Invest in Libraries” rally held by Councilman Antonio Reynoso. The rally was in support of adding additional funds to the mayor’s executive budget for the three library systems in New York City.

Representatives of elected officials at all levels of government joined members of the Queens Library staff to promote the importance of library programs for informal education, early childhood development and English as a second language classes.

The June library participation numbers were also enhanced by the Ridgewood branch’s participation in I.S. 93’s 100th birthday celebration.

Located directly across the street from the library, the intermediate school is a chief beneficiary of the library. The relationship between the library and the school has become so close that the principal and two assistant principals often visit the library after school to help kids and to channel the enthusiasm of the young teens.

Volunteers from the FORL watched as kids and parents participated in events like “dunk the principal” during the celebration. Free library gifts were also given out and parents were encouraged to join the FORL group.

The FORL thinks that the Ridgewood branch can become an even more integral part of the cultural life of the community going forward. The library has just undergone a renovation of the 100-seat performance space, and a balcony and the children’s room was built.

In addition, FORL will launch a new initiative to read in the public parks. They will start on July 20 at 11 a.m. at Grover Cleveland Park.

“We now have many more laptops and tablet PCs for use. All the computers have been moved to the balcony to give more seating space,” Dowd said. “Our outdoor performance and exhibit space is underutilized for lack of security. Right now the budget does not allow the meeting room to stay open after the library closes.”

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Op-ed: Find the best teacher — look in the mirror


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY BRIDGET QUINN-CAREY

Helping children become good readers is a gift that lasts a lifetime. It gives them the tools to do well in school and will remain a critical skill throughout their personal and working lives. Experts agree: parents are their children’s first and best teachers. Children who are read to at the earliest age are the most likely to become good readers themselves.

Read to your children. It does not make a difference what you read. Read the newspaper, read a magazine, read a picture book. It does not matter what language you read in, or if you think the child is too young to understand. Simply read to them, regularly.

Queens Library is your partner in developing good readers. We have many, many fun, high-quality books to lend in English and in many other languages. Children love them. Through picture books, children learn letters, numbers, colors and a lot of information about how the world works. Don’t be shy — borrow as many as you like!

Play time offers more opportunities for learning. Rhymes and finger games help little ones learn basic reading and math concepts. Queens Library has a variety of programs, parenting tools and materials that will help make reading and play even more fun, as well as educational.

Queens Library is NYC’s first library to introduce a Family Place. We are currently offering this program in five libraries and will be expanding the program in the autumn. Through this interactive program, parents and caregivers experience the learning opportunities of the library together with their children. Family Place provides a wide array of developmentally appropriate children’s books, parenting books and hands-on toys in a welcoming area designed exclusively for them. It has been so popular, we can’t wait to bring it to more Queens neighborhoods.
Kickoff-to-Kindergarten is a structured eight-week school-readiness program for children ages 3 and 4, currently offered at eight Queens Library locations. The goal is to encourage parents and caregivers to be the “first teachers” of our youngest patrons and help ensure that children are ready to learn at school.

You are never too young — or too old — to enjoy a great library story time. Many of us have wonderful memories of listening to stories, whether it was on a grandparent’s lap or in the library. Every culture, the world over, tells stories, and for good reason — stories teach while they entertain. Queens Library’s early childhood programs are for children as young as 12 months and up to pre-kindergarten. The little ones have a great time, learning and developing a love of reading and books.

Registration for summer reading is going on in every Queens Library location right now. Even children who do not read by themselves yet are welcome to sign up. School-aged children and teens keep their reading skills sharp and retain what they learned in school. Plus, it’s fun, it’s free and it’s right in the neighborhood. It’s an all-around win.

Queens Library invites you to partner with us to make great readers of every child in Queens.

Bridget Quinn-Carey is the interim president and CEO of the Queens Borough Public Library.

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City budget agreement brings more cops, six-day library service


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer

More than a thousand new police officers will be hired and six-day library service will be restored in Queens and elsewhere under a $78.5 billion budget agreement that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced late Monday night.

“This budget is a reflection of the responsible, progressive and honest process we’ve built over the last year and a half,” de Blasio said. “We’re strengthening the NYPD’s ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization.”

“This early, fiscally responsible budget will uplift New Yorkers in every neighborhood across the five boroughs,” Mark-Viverito added. “From establishing a citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the city’s commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home.”

The spending plan allocates $170 million toward the NYPD to bolster its roster by 1,300 officers. In the weeks leading up to the agreement, the mayor and speaker differed on how many new officers to hire (de Blasio initially sought 500; Mark-Viverito wanted 1,000).

According to the mayor’s office, the city stands to save $70 million by reforming NYPD overtime and increasing the number of civilian employees within the department.

The city will also allocate an additional $36 million to the Queens, Brooklyn and New York public library systems, enabling them to offer six-day library service at all branches. The Queens Library last had six-day service in 2008; the policy was eliminated as a result of budget cutbacks in subsequent years.

Other components in the budget agreement include the following:

  • $17.9 million toward implementing a breakfast in the classroom program at 530 schools, serving over 339,000 children;
  • a $1.8 million expansion of the city’s Emergency Food Assistance Program;
  • $1.5 million to expand the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs efforts to eliminate veteran homelessness;
  • $5 million to expand inspections of and make improvements to dilapidated conditions at boarding homes across the city; and
  • $1.3 million to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for efforts to stop drug-related violence.

The budget covers the city’s 2016 fiscal year, which begins on July 1 of this year; city lawmakers had until June 30 to reach a budget agreement.

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Astoria woman selected as sixth Queens poet laureate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Borough President Melinda Katz installed Astoria resident Maria Lisella as the borough’s sixth poet laureate in a ceremony on Tuesday after a three-month search, including the vetting of more than 30 candidates.

Lisella, an author and journalist, will use the unpaid position to promote a love of poetry and literature throughout the “World’s Borough.” An author of three books of poetry, Lisella said she hopes to use the position not to market herself, but rather to connect and foster the literature community in Queens.

“It’s a privilege and it’s an opportunity, but I don’t see it as a way to promote moi,” Lisella said. “I think it’s about marketing the borough and the community.”

A south Jamaica native, Lisella’s family moved to Bellerose when she was young and she lived in Flushing as well before settling down in Astoria for the last 40 years. She is an alum of Queenborough Community College and Queens College, and she received a master’s degree from NYU-Polytechnic Institute. Lisella has been a travel writer for three decades, and her work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News and Foxnews.com, among other news outlets.

Like Queens, Lisella has been influenced by a range of cultures. Her family has roots in Italy and she speaks English, Italian and Spanish. Lisella has also visited about 60 countries.

“Ms. Lisella is an amazing writer who is capable of synthesizing the borough’s many cultures and languages into incredible poetry,” Katz said. “She also has a deep love and appreciation of Queens that comes from being a lifelong resident.”


The Queens Poet Laureate position was initially established in 1996 by Claire Shulman’s administration in partnership with Queens College.

Lisella was one of five finalists selected by a panel of judges. The judges were appointed by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee. Out of the top candidates, Katz ultimately selected Lisella, who has connections with past Queens Poet Laureates.

The first Queens Poet Laureate, Stephen Stepanchev, was a professor to Lisella in Queens College. Lisella and the second laureate, Hal Sirowitz, are both members of Brevitas, an online poetry circle.

As the new Queens Poet Laureate, Lisella will give readings of poetry around the borough in Queens Library branches and conduct outreach programs. Lisella held her first official reading  in the position at the end of her induction ceremony. She read two pieces from her most recent poetry book, “Thieves in the Family.”

To connect the Queens literature community, Lisella has thought of some initiatives including having a book fair, starting a website dedicated to Queens poetry and holding readings in cultural institutions, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image.

She also wants to use social media to reach the Queens poetry community.

“There are a lot of pockets of activity going on [in Queens],” Lisella said, “so I have to plug into that.”

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Queens Library CEO appeals for more city funding


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Borough Public Library

With a little more than a month until the city’s budget deadline, the Queens Borough Public Library is urging elected officials to make a much-needed investment in its system.

The Queens Library, along with the Brooklyn and New York public libraries, recently launched the “Invest in Libraries” campaign, which aims to engage New Yorkers in the debate and convince city lawmakers to provide an additional $65 million in combined funding in the 2016 fiscal year budget, which takes effect in July.

Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey outlined the campaign in an exclusive interview with The Courier Thursday. The Queens Library seeks an $18.2 million funding boost from the city, a drop in the bucket in a budget projected to meet or exceed $70 billion.

Should Queens Library receive the extra funding, Quinn-Carey claimed, it would restore the library’s funding level to that of 2008 and open the door toward adding more than 200 new jobs, expanding existing educational programs and restoring six-day service throughout the system. Since 2008, the library lost 20 percent of its funds, pared jobs and eliminated six-day service at two-thirds of its 62 branches.

Quinn-Carey charged that increasing library funds is a concept that aligns with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.  For instance, the extra funds would enable Queens Library to expand its English as a second language program, which was held at 40 branches and proved so popular that some potential students were turned away due to a lack of available seats.

“This is really an investment not only in the traditional library system but also community engagement,” she said. “This is giving communities a greater chance of success.”

Additionally, the Queens Library is also seeking capital funds to renovate many aging, yet heavily used branches such as the Corona, Rego Park and Far Rockaway locations. De Blasio set aside $300 million in the city’s 10-year capital plan to renovate libraries, but Quinn-Carey noted the actual projected costs exceed $1.4 billion.

Quinn-Carey and the Queens Library have spent the better part of a year working to repair its image following a scandal centered around its former president and CEO, Thomas W. Galante. He came under fire early in 2014 after it was revealed that he collected a nearly $400,000 annual salary, ordered a six-figure renovation of his office and made other lavish expenses at a time when the library cut jobs and services due to funding cutbacks.

The library lost political and financial support, and local elected officials such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sought to change the library’s board of trustees after it resisted calls to force Galante out of office and fully open its financial books. Legislation enacted by the state in June empowered Katz and de Blasio to remove eight library trustees who supported Galante and resisted calls for full financial disclosure.

The board of trustees was stocked with new members by September, when it forced Galante into a leave of absence. Quinn-Carey was named as his interim replacement, and Galante was subsequently fired in December.

Quinn-Carey said she and the reconstituted board are working closely with the government to reform the library system. It engaged audit firms to assess the library’s risks and expenses. Steps were also taken to make the library more transparent; the library is now in compliance with the Freedom of Information Law and posts expense records on its website.

“These efforts and a reform of policies and procedures should reassure the public that the library is a great institution and still able to deliver these great services,” Quinn-Carey said.

Click here for more information about the Invest in Libraries campaign.

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LIC community celebrates groundbreaking of Hunters Point library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

After 15 years, the wait is finally over for the Long Island City community, which worked hard to bring a new waterfront library to the neighborhood.

On Saturday, local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Queens Library at Hunters Point, which will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, right next to Gantry Plaza State Park.

“Hunters Point is a rapidly growing community of young families and has a demonstrated need for a library community hub,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “The Hunters Point Library will be a modern and green facility that will serve as a center of learning, literacy and culture for residents of all ages.”

The state-of-the-art library, expected to be completed by the fall of 2017, was designed by architect Steven Holl. Its main interior circulation route will be cut into the west façade, opening up views to the East River and Manhattan skyline.

The 22,000-square-foot facility will feature a reading garden, a rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, a performance space and a children’s area.

Rendering courtesy of Queens Library

Rendering courtesy of Queens Library

“There’s a famous saying that it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, it took a village to raise a library,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been working on the project since 1999 and allocated $4 million for the library. “We are here because no one gave up on the project. I was never ever going to let this fail. It was too important. This community deserves a state-of-the-art community library that will be the envy of the entire city and now you have it, you’re going to get it.”

Mark Christie, president of the group Friends of the Hunters Point Library, has been working on the idea of the library since 1998 and during the groundbreaking quoted former President John F. Kennedy.

“This will be a building that brings our community together,” Christie said. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country — and you will see what a big difference just coming together will make in each and every one of our lives.”

Along with the construction of the library, the project will also include the construction of the permanent 1,260-square-foot ranger station at Gantry Plaza State Park. The building will include a reception area, a park manager’s office and bathrooms for the public.

Saturday’s groundbreaking celebration also featured a street fair where members of the community enjoyed carnival games, entertainment, family-friendly activities and food.

Until the Hunters Point library is constructed, a mobile library will be parked each Saturday at Gantry State Park from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to offer books and other material for all ages. The Friends of Hunters Point Library are also supporting a “pop-up” library on Saturdays offering reading and activities starting at 11 a.m.

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Whitestone library garden gets $25K from Malba women


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

From cash to container plants, the Women’s Club of Malba is spending some green to keep the Whitestone library green for a very long time.

In their latest charity effort, the club gave the Queens Library Foundation $25,000 to maintain the outdoor garden outside the Whitestone branch at 151-10 14th Rd.

“We are delighted that the Women’s Club of Malba is supporting the reading garden at the Whitestone Library,” said Vincent Arcuri Jr., president of the Queens Library Foundation board of directors. “Through its endowment, the club will ensure that the garden will provide hours of relaxation, literacy, and environmental learning and outdoor enjoyment for generations to come.”

The women’s club is able to give to the community more than ever since the sale of the its clubhouse in the fall of 2012, according to Rosemarie Scarola, who is currently serving as first vice president. The Center Drive clubhouse had been used by the club since its start in 1933, but financial difficulty from rising taxes and other expenses led to the sale, and the women do not plan to buy another headquarters.

Instead, funds from the sale are being given to nonprofit foundations, with the library garden grant following a $100,000 endowment in 2013 to buy a new, state-of-the-art ambulance for the Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service.

Scarola said that the organization always chooses local charities for their donations because they want to be sure that the funds will directly impact the community in a meaningful way.

“You give to a big organization, the organization gets like 3 dollars, and you’re paying for the CEOs,” said Scarola, who served as president of the club from 1988 to 1990, “so we try to be a little more careful with that.”

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More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.

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Astoria library to temporarily close for self-service book return installment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

The Queens Library at Steinway will temporarily close starting Thursday to install a new service that will make returning books easier.

From April 2 through April 7, the library located at 21-45 31st St. in Astoria will be closed temporarily as self-service book returns are installed inside the library.

Already located in most Queens libraries, this self-service option allows book returns to be processed even when the library is closed. Once a book is slipped through the slot, the same technology used for E-ZPass scans the chips located inside the library materials and automatically returns the book, printing a receipt of return for the customer.

This service is important to the customers because it allows the returned books to appear automatically on the customer’s account and also gets materials back on the shelves more quickly.

While the Queens Library at Steinway is closed for the six days, customers can visit nearby libraries at 14-01 Astoria Blvd. or 40-20 Broadway. They can also renew material on the library’s website, www.queenslibrary.org/myaccount or by phone at 718-990-8508.

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New citywide campaign calls for over $1B investment in libraries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

A citywide campaign is looking to reach city leaders and call on them to invest in and fund public libraries.

The campaign “Invest in Libraries,” which was launched on Friday, is a partnership among library supporters, the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Queens Library.

“Invest in Libraries” calls for a $65 million increase in operating expenses in this year’s budget in order to provide to the programs and services offered at the three library systems. It also calls for $1.1 billion in capital funding for critical renovations and maintenance.

Along with launching the campaign, a new report called “Long Overdue: NYC’s $1.1 Billion Library Fine,” was also released, sharing examples of branches that are in need of capital funding.

“Our city’s library branches are literally crumbling,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “This report highlights the tremendous need and maintenance crisis that is plaguing our city’s neighborhood library branches. Without increasing the operating and capital budgets for the city’s three library institutions, millions of New Yorkers will continue to lose access to the very resources and programs that are pulling them into the middle class. Now is the time to act.”

In the report it says the city’s libraries are facing a “maintenance crisis” with problems such as overcrowding, chronic water damage, broken elevators, heating and cooling problems, and other issues. In some cases, because of inadequate funding, some libraries have been forced to make temporary fixes such as painting over leaks instead of replacing declining roofs, the report said.

The campaign also launched the website investinlibraries.org where people can “take action” and stay updated.

“In the first half of Fiscal Year ’15, visitorship at Queens Library is up. Attendance at free library programs is up 6.7 percent over the past 6 months, and up 43 percent over the past five years. We now have the opportunity and ability to do better for the people of this city — as the economy grows, so should the investment in libraries,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of the Queens Library. “Together we can ensure all of our residents and communities grow and thrive.”

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Open call for new Queens poet laureate


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY LLEWYN SHIN

Borough President Melinda Katz has launched an open call for applications for the next Queens poet laureate, a prestigious three-year position charged with promoting a love of poetry and literacy throughout the borough.

“Because Queens is such a diverse borough, the Queens poet laureate must be a compelling wordsmith who is capable of synthesizing the borough’s many cultures and languages into poetry,” Katz said.

The Queens Borough President’s office and Queens College have been partners in the Queens poet laureate project since the search for the first Queens poet laureate began in 1996. This year, the Queens Borough Public Library joined the partnership for the first time and will provide meeting space for the next Queens poet laureate to present poetry and conduct outreach to the Queens community.

“As a primary source for culture and literature in our borough, Queens Library is delighted to partner with Borough President Melinda Katz’s office to find the next poet laureate. We look forward to hosting the new poet laureate at the library,” Queens Library Interim President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said.

Queens College President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez added, “We are delighted that Borough President Katz is continuing this position and committed to promoting poetry – literature that can touch people of all backgrounds in a profound and universal way.”

The process of selecting the Queens poet laureate is overseen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee.

Applications are available at www.queensbp.org/poet and must be submitted by April 24. Applicants must have a published portfolio and are expected to submit representative samples of their poetry, including poems related to Queens. This writing sample should not exceed 10 pages per applicant.

A panel of expert judges will review the applications and recommend three finalists to the borough president, who will make the final decision on who will be appointed.

The past Queens poet laureates are as follows: Stephen Stepanchev (who served from 1997 – 2001), Hal Sirowitz (2001 – 2004), Ishle Yi Park (2004 – 2007), Julio Marzan (2007 – 2010) and Paolo Javier (2010 – 2014).

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Construction set to start on Hunters Point Community Library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of the Queens Library

The Long Island City community celebrated Thursday morning the beginning of construction of a new waterfront library set to have the best view in Queens.

Local elected officials, community leaders, students from P.S./I.S. 78 and residents of the western Queens neighborhood came together for the start of the construction phase for the Hunters Point Community Library, which will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, right next to Gantry Plaza State Park.

“This is an amazing historic day for Hunters Point, Long Island City,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped secure $30 million to begin construction of the new branch. “For so many folks here who may have thought, ‘Is it really ever going to happen?’ today we are here to say it is, it’s happening, it’s real, this is a huge victory.”

The state-of-the-art library, set to break ground in the spring and be completed in 2017, was designed by architect Steven Holl.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

“The great struggle of a neighborhood like this which has buildings going up by the day and thousands of people moving in, is making sure the infrastructure keeps up,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris, who provided $500,000 in state funding for the library. “To be able to say…we are going to have this landmark that people will look at from Manhattan and be jealous of is a testament to all the hard work that everyone has been doing.”

The 21,500-square-foot facility will feature a reading garden, rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, a performance space and a children’s area. It will overlook the Manhattan skyline across the East River.

“It will absolutely be the best view of any library in Queens. We are excited to see that start to rise and to know that we are providing a new library for this community that so desperately wants and needs it,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of the Queens Library. “The library is in a great place for 2015 and beyond and projects like this really show how we can come together with our communities to provide what you need in a library.”

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Four top Queens Library execs out in the wake of director’s firing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Just a month after the former director of the Queens Library was fired from his post, four of his top deputies have now followed him out the door amid a reshuffling of the library’s executive staff.

Tom Galante was bumped from his $392,000-a-year post last month by the library’s board. Galante, through his lawyer, has said he will file a lawsuit charging that the board did not have cause to dismiss him.

Turnover of the top staff continued this week with the resignations of Vice President and General Counsel Darlene Askew-Robinson, Vice President for Information Technology Lisa Epps, Vice President for Human Resources Angelica Huynh-Rivera and Vice President for Capital Projects Frank Geneese.

Library spokeswoman Joanne King declined to identify the departing staffers or any other details of the changes at the top that were reported by the Daily News. But King did release prepared comments about staffing changes from the library’s interim president, Bridget Quinn-Carey.

“Queens Library has entered into a new era. We are creating a new culture of openness and transparency, while continuing the library’s legacy of customer service. A change in direction often requires a change in administration; this was necessary in order for the library to move forward.”

She went on to say, “2015 will be a year of rebuilding and team building. Along with the board, elected officials and other stakeholders, the people of Queens can look forward to the best Queens Library ever,” Quinn-Carey said.

The library was the subject of scathing press reports last year over Galante’s salary, benefits, outside employment and renovation of the executive staff offices, including construction of a smoking deck.

The reports led to Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Melinda Katz dismissing six members of the library board last year. Former board members have criticized the moves and defended Galante for his record of operating a library that has received numerous awards, nationally and internationally.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer last year joined the battle over the library’s management. He went to court to force the library — technically not a city agency even though 85 percent of its funding comes from City Hall — to open its books so he could conduct an audit.

“I applaud Bridget Quinn-Carey for taking a big broom and doing a clean sweep at the Queens Library,” Stringer said in a statement. “Taxpayers deserve a management team who puts the public’s interest first. I look forward to working with my fellow board trustees and the library’s new leadership as we restore the Queens Library to its rightful place as one of the nation’s premier public library systems.”

Backers of Galante, including several former board members who were booted from their posts by Katz, had defended the former director and said the controversy was sparked by union reaction to his attempts to rein in spending and privatize a small number of janitorial jobs.

They had insisted that Galante’s spending, including credit cards used for travel and other expenses, were all authorized by the board.

If Galante can prove in court that he was fired without cause, he could be owed as much as five years’ salary under the terms of his contract.

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