Tag Archives: Queens Library

Queens Library to offer six-day library service

| amatua@queenscourier.com

File photo

Bookworms and those looking to take advantage of computers and other materials provided by their libraries will have an extra day to do so starting Nov. 15.

The Queens Library announced on Tuesday that expanded library services will begin next month and every library in the borough will be open on at least one day on the weekend —mostly Saturdays. These services are possible because the City Council budget included an extra $12 million in operating expenses.

The Central Library in Jamaica and the Flushing Library will continue to remain open seven days a week and will open at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays.

The funding will also allow the library to hire approximately 100 new employees and acquire 30 percent more funding to purchase books, e-books, videos and other materials. Literacy programs for young library customers and after school programs will also benefit from the additional funding, according to the library.

‎”Six-day library service is back in Queens.” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “If budgets are a reflection of our values, then truly this budget shows that we, as a city, value the life-changing services of our city’s libraries.”

Currently, 23 branches of the 62 total are open on at least one weekend day. The remaining branches will add Saturday hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Court Square branch in Long Island City will remain closed on weekends, but a mobile branch at Gantry Plaza in Hunters Point will open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Kew Gardens Hills Branch will open on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

“The expansion of Queens Library hours into the weekend has long been awaited by families of every neighborhood throughout the borough,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Thanks to the funding from the City Council, our borough will benefit greatly as every one of our library branches will add weekend hours. This latest enhancement of service will directly impact millions by dramatically improving access and the reliability of the library, which serves as an anchor for so many of our communities.”

For a list of extended hours for each branch, click here.


Queens Library in Rochdale celebrates opening of Adult Learning Center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Queens Library


The ribbon has finally been cut at the Adult Learning Center at the Queens Library in Rochdale in celebration of the $5.18 million in expansions made over the past three years.

Elected officials and community leaders joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 25 to officially open the center.

The Adult Learning Center has been expanded to more than double the existing space to accommodate the hundreds of adult students it serves every year. The center is one of seven in the Queens Library system that offers programs for adults who are learning to read, learning English as a second language and taking pre-GED classes.

“The Queens Library is a vital cultural, informational and educational resource for the entire community. Its Adult Learner Program has aided countless men and women by helping them develop the basic literacy and language skills they need to perform routine functions, achieve professional advancement and gain knowledge,” Councilman Ruben Wills said. “I am honored to have contributed to the modernization and expansion of the Rochdale Adult Learning Center so it may enhance the program’s efficiency and productivity, and better serve my constituents’ needs.”

All seven of the centers are equipped with a full-time professional staff and volunteers who tutor literacy groups and facilitate English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) conversation groups. The centers offer basic adult education classes, video groups, writing groups and technology-assisted instruction.

“The expanded Adult Learning Center at Queens Library at Rochdale Village is an inspiring space in which to learn. It will encourage even more adults to take the next step toward improving their English fluency or to work toward a high school diploma. It is a wonderful gift to the community,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of Queens Library.

The renovations expanded over 1,700 square feet to include more classroom space, more computers and listening stations, and more study and conversation group space. Additionally, the roof, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and fire alarm equipment were replaced with much of the funding provided by Wills and the City Council, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and state Assembly member Vivian Cook. They are hoping to build new handicapped-accessible restrooms shortly.

“Learning is a lifelong process, and the expansion of the Rochdale Village Library’s Adult Learning Center will enhance literacy of adult students every year. The expansion has transformed this library into one that is befitting of a world-class library system and will serve as a strong example of how public investment can directly impact neighborhoods and uplift communities,” Katz said.


Douglaston-Little Neck library improvements on the way

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Queens Library officials and Councilman Paul Vallone hosted a meeting at the Douglaston-Little Neck branch this week to discuss upgrades funded through a $1.03 million allocation from the councilman and Borough President Melinda Katz.

The funds will provide upgrades to the air conditioning and heating systems for $750,000, upgrades to the security system for $65,000, and $215,000 for improvements to the meeting room and the installation of additional restrooms.

Vallone said that he was overwhelmed by the lack of financial support he feels his district’s libraries have faced for years. He expressed regret that so much of the allocation had to be used for structural upgrades such as air conditioning, saying that city hall should be paying for such capital projects.

“My funding allocation will go a long way to improve and modernize the Douglaston-Little Neck library so that the community can enjoy it for years to come,” he said. “Our libraries provide us with an invaluable resource and this project reflects my commitment to support our libraries, which is an investment for our entire community.”

Arline Abdalian, president of the Friends of Queens Library at Douglaston/Little Neck, observed that improvements to expand the meeting room space would ensure that no one would be turned away from arts and cultural events.

“It will mean a lot to us,” Abdalian said. “We consistently draw large audiences to our events, so this will be a huge step forward.”

P.S. 98 Principal Lena Kim commented that her young students will appreciate not having to wait as long for restrooms with the addition of new facilities, and that the library was important to their lives in the early learning years.

“The library is where our children dream and hope,” Kim said. “It’s where they expand their minds and their thinking, so I think you on behalf of P.S. 98.”

Although the upgrade is greatly welcomed by the community, many at the meeting felt more could be done to improve the library.

According to Abdalian, the Friends of Queens Library at Douglaston/Little Neck are advocating for $28,000,000 for a complete rebuilding or renovation of the library in the coming years. According to library officials, these plans are still in the early stages of proposal and nothing is certain other than the most immediate plans for renovation.

“With the money that we have, this is what we can do now for you,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and chief executive officer of the Queens Library.


Pols announce construction of new library in Far Rockaway

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

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.

Far Rockaway library rendering

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.”


Queens Memory Project asks residents to share memorabilia

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Queens Memory Project

The Queens Library and Queens College want you to share your photographs, newspaper clippings and stories as they continue to archive and record the history of the “World’s Borough” as part of the Queens Memory Project.

Started in 2010 through a grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council, a team began to interview current residents about their Queens memories and in 2011 created a website to host all of the materials they received.

According to Joanne King, communications director for Queens Library, the Queens Memory Project has hosted 40 outreach events, collected 286 oral stories from 23 countries of origin and has made more than 1,800 images and audio recordings available to the public on its website.

The website includes an expansive collection of photos and audio organized by people, places, years and more. Specific collections paint a bigger picture by coupling photographs with audio about topics such as “Bayside, Queens: WWII Homefront History.”

The collection includes photographs of soldiers, Fort Totten and interviews with a Bayside resident who remembers hiding under her school desk as air raids were conducted and scores of soldiers walking along Bell Boulevard.

Other collections document the damage homeowners sustained from Hurricane Sandy as well as recovery efforts after the superstorm. The project also showcases the diversity of the borough, highlighting a Hindi Ratha Yatra celebration and culinary traditions from immigrants.

The project has scheduled events at Queens libraries to ask people to bring in their family photos, documents and other memorabilia. Members of the project will digitize these items and give participants a free flash drive with digital copies of their materials.

The Queens Memory Project will be at the following locations:


Knicks legend John Starks scores with LeFrak City library visit

| svrattos@queenscourier.com

Photos by Stephen Vrattos

Legendary Knicks shooting guard John Starks visited the Queens Library at LeFrak City on Tuesday as part of the 9th annual “Knicks Read to Achieve” summer reading program, sponsored by Optimum Community and Madison Square Garden.

Joining the venerable NBA superstar, who turned 50 the day before, was Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

Targeted to children ages 6 to 12, “Knicks Read to Achieve” consists of a series of reading events at libraries, camps and community centers throughout the New York/New Jersey metro areas. The initiative encourages reading through the use of incentives and is highlighted by read-aloud events with Knicks alumni and elected officials at select locations.

Despite the morning’s torrential downpour, parents and children of all ages filled the community room of the library to meet the Knicks all-time leader in three point field goals; read with him and the councilwoman; pick up some free goodies, such as a children’s book, book bag and T-shirt; participate in an interactive quiz and try to their luck at winning a pair of tickets to an upcoming New York Liberty basketball game.

Starks proved he was as adept at playing solo as he was with a team, when Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland was delayed. He spoke with the kids and engaged in some friendly banter, which helped prevent the youngsters from getting fidgety and disruptive. He asked the children what sports they liked, what books they’ve read and what they enjoyed doing in the summer.

Basketball was a clear favorite to the former question. To the second, a child spoke of a story she’d read, about a little girl, like herself, who started baking cupcakes as a means of combatting the bullying she was getting at school, to which Starks admitted, he too was bullied as a kid. When one of the young audience members mentioned swimming as a favorite summer pastime, the Knicks alumnus asked if anyone had seen “Jaws.” “It kept me out of the water,” he revealed.

Starks also introduced “Salt in His Shoes,” the book he would to read with the kids, of which every child received a free copy when they arrived. Written by Deloris Jordan, mother of NBA superstar Michael Jordan, the picture book tells the story of young Michael’s early hardship at playing neighborhood basketball against kids much taller than himself, and how fierce determination and hard work, along with a little motherly advice, led him to overcome the odds and succeed.

“We’re here to talk about the greatest basketball player ever,” Starks said. “Who do you think that is?” Upon hearing his own name yelled out, Starks gave a hearty laugh. “Yeah, it was me,” he teasingly said, before humbling admitting it wasn’t he.

No mention was made by the Knicks great of the famous “dunk” play on Michael Jordan during the 1993 Eastern Conference finals against the Chicago Bulls, although one can’t help but wonder if the moment, one of the most famous plays in Knicks history and one of the rare few wherein Jordan was bested by another, was in the back of Starks’ mind during the above exchange.

“Everyone in this room is important,” Ferreras-Copeland said upon her arrival, before telling parents and children alike that New York City spends 78 billion dollars a year on education and kids should “use the library to get smart. We believe in you.” The councilwoman touted the importance and wonder of reading. “You can travel anywhere in the world; meet anyone from another country in a single day just by reading a book.”

Starks began reading “Salt in His Shoes,” quickly ceding the duties to Ferreras-Copeland, who soon turned the reading over to volunteers from the audience.

“My mother pushed me to go to the library and read,” Starks revealed. “And my grandmother read the Bible to us.” The former NBA superstar named “Peter Pan” as his favorite book growing up. “I like fantasy,” he said. “I like the idea of being able to fly!”


Borough president secures millions for south Queens library renovations

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Three public libraries in southern Queens will receive much-needed improvements through $9.5 million in funding that Queens Borough President Melinda Katz secured, it was announced on Monday morning.

Katz agreed to allocate $3.8 million to expand the Arverne branch in the Rockaways as well as another $3.5 million toward interior renovations at the Baisley Park location. The borough president will also provide $2.2 million for facade and multipurpose renovations at the St. Albans branch.

Each project, however, is in the design phase, and the start of actual work remains many months away, according to a Queens Library spokesperson. The expansion at Arverne “will begin in approximately 2.5 years” and construction will be completed “approximately four years from now.”

Queens Library will add more than 2,000 square feet at the Arverne location (312 Beach 54th St.) to create an expanded teen area and computer center as well as providing additional program space. The extension will be erected in a side yard on the site of a modular building the library has used since the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The project at Baisley Park (117-11 Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica) will be “a total interior renovation,” including revamped adult and children’s areas, a new teen and computer center and a new public space in the library’s interior atrium, according to the library. Construction is scheduled to take place “in approximately 18 months” and wrap up “2.5 years from now,” with the branch closed to the public for much of that period.

At St. Albans (191-05 Linden Blvd.), Queens Library will repair the exterior masonry and create a new entrance while also reconfiguring the circulation area, installing self checkout equipment, renovating the multipurpose room and upgrading technology. Construction will start “in about 18 months to two years,” depending on the completion of designs, and renovations will end “approximately three months from now.”

As with the Baisley Park branch, the St. Albans location will also be closed for a period during construction. Queens Library will create “interim service plans” to accommodate customers affected by the closures at each location.

Funding for the three projects make up more than two-thirds of the combined $14 million that Katz allocated to Queens Library for capital improvements. Other projects that the borough president is financially supporting include the installation of a second elevator at the Flushing library ($2.75 million), roof replacement at the Ozone Park branch ($800,000) and new security cameras at the Bay Terrace, Douglaston/Little Neck, East Flushing, Rosedale, South Ozone Park, Steinway and Woodhaven locations (a combined $618,000).

“The millions of families who rely on the Queens Library services deserve nothing less than a world-class system,” Katz said in a press release on Monday. “This capital allocation will help ensure the Queens Library branches remain up-to-date and better able to serve its educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture.”

In thanking Katz for the allocation, Queens Library board of trustees Chairman Carl S. Koerner said the funding “will allow the library to substantially upgrade its infrastructure, providing a better environment for library customers.”


$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.


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.


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.”


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

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.