Tag Archives: Queens Library

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.


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.


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.”


Open call for new Queens poet laureate

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



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).


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.”


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.


Renovated library opens in Rosedale

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Donovan Richards


After an eight-month renovation, the Rosedale branch of the Queens Library has reopened on schedule and under budget.

The renovation project’s highlights include modern rooftop heating, ventilated and air-conditioned temperature control, and energy-efficient lighting. The new comfort is accentuated by general interior improvements and spring cleaning.

Initially, Councilman Donovan Richards allocated $1 million for the project, but only $575,000 was used. Queens Library Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said of Richards, “He has made a great investment in the community.” Richards thanked the Department of Design and Construction for working in such a timely manner.

“Public libraries are a vital part of the cultural fabric of our city,” Richards said. “The recent renovation of Rosedale Library gave me an opportunity to fulfill a promise to expand the capacity of our libraries so that they can serve an even wider portion of the public. I would like to thank Queens Library and DDC for working to bring these upgrades to the library patrons in such a timely and professional manner.”

Since April 30, a mobile library bus provided service in Rosendale every Wednesday. Finally, on Dec. 22, a ribbon cutting marked the official re-opening of the building.

“Adding a new HVAC system, brand-new acoustic ceiling panels and lighting fixtures will ensure a building that is more than 50 years old can operate more efficiently and continue to be a valuable resource for the Rosedale community for decades to come,” Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Pena-Mora said.



Axed Queens Library director will sue for wrongful termination

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Update 4:30 p.m.

It’s the end of Tom Galante‘s chapter as director of the Queens Library.

The institution’s board of trustees fired Galante during a meeting Wednesday night—prompting his lawyer to say Thursday that he will be suing for breach of contract.

“This evening, the board of trustees heard a report by counsel. Based on that and a prior report by counsel, a decision was made to terminate immediately Mr. Galante’s employment,” a statement from the library said. “As the library moves forward, the board of trustees will continue working to ensure greater transparency and the proper administration of the library and its funds in furtherance of its mission. Queens Library will continue to provide outstanding value to the people of Queens.”

In September the board voted to suspend Galante, appointing Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, to carry out his duties. He continued to collect his $392,000 annual salary while on administrative leave.

According to the resolution voted on by the board, Galante was fired with cause. Library officials would not specify what constituted cause in his case.

Galante is looking to sue for breach of contract, although nothing has been filed yet, according to Hillary Zilz Prudlo, whose firm Sclam Stone & Dolan is representing Galante.

If Galante can prove in court that the board did not have cause to fire him, he could be due five years’ salary under the terms of his contract—nearly $2 million.

In September, the board voted  to open its books for the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, to perform an audit on all financial data from the library, which receives 85 percent of its funding from taxpayer money but is not officially a city agency or department.

In a statement released on Wednesday Stringer said Galante’s termination was “long overdue.”

“Transparency and proper controls are the cornerstones of good nonprofit governance. My office is currently conducting comprehensive audits of all three New York City library systems. Separately, in my capacity as an ex-officio trustee at the Queens Library, we have already begun working with the board to strengthen internal controls to ensure greater transparency,” he said. 

Galante has been under fire since a series of media reports revealing the renovation of his office that included a $27,000 outdoor deck and expenses he rang up on a library credit card during his time as library director.

Earlier this week, Joseph Ficalora, CEO of NY Community Bank and past president of the Queens Library Foundation Board, told The Courier that the expenses Galante made during his time as library director were not “inappropriate” and had all been approved by the board.

Ficalora was one of the six Queens Library trustees dismissed by Borough President Melinda Katz in July. Mayor Bill de Blasio fired two, and two others resigned. Four new trustees have since been appointed.

Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated. Last month, a federal judge granted the request of the former trustees to dismiss their lawsuit that challenged Katz’s decision to remove them from the board.

“Tonight’s action further restores public faith and trust in the management of the Queens Library,” Katz said in a statement following Galante’s termination. “The reformed board of trustees continues to move the library in the right direction consistent with its educational purpose.”


Former Queens Library trustee defends Tom Galante’s reported expenses

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

One of the six Queens Library trustees dismissed by the borough president has stepped out to defend the expenses by suspended library chief Tom Galante, who could potentially face being fired at a board meeting scheduled for Wednesday night.

Joseph Ficalora, CEO of NY Community Bank and past president of the Queens Library Foundation Board, told The Queens Courier that the expenses Galante made during his time as library director were not “inappropriate” and had all been approved by the board.

According to the NY Daily News, Galante had been using funds “like a personal piggy bank” before being suspended in September, based on a preliminary review of library finances by city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Some of the credit card charges that Galante rang up included dinners with groups of library trustees, concert tickets and various hotel charges while the library chief was on out-of-town library business.

However, according to Ficalora, the expenses that are being reported had all been approved by the board and were consistent to those of others who held Galante’s position. He also added that six of the board members who had approved the expenses are still on the board.

“This was nothing that they didn’t know and the board members that are still sitting knew this and there was nothing about the expenses that were inappropriate,” Ficalora said.

He also said that other reports that brought up international trips Galante took were a “miscarriage of justice” because he had been traveling around the world as the ambassador of the library and also to accept awards on the library’s behalf.

“These activities were board-approved and consistent with the library having earned awards,” Ficalora said. “Tom was invited to speak at world-class events because of the world recognition and awards the Queens Library was receiving. None of those expenses were inappropriate and they were all approved by the board.”

In regards to the “fine dining,” Ficalora added that these meals have been typical for library directors for decades and they took place to discuss library business such as new programs or any problems.

Galante was suspended in September and his duties have since been carried out by Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

In July, Borough President Melinda Katz fired six trustees and Mayor Bill de Blasio fired two. Two others resigned. Four new trustees have since been appointed.

Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated. However, two weeks ago a federal judge granted the request of the former trustees to dismiss their lawsuit that challenged Katz’s decision to remove them from the board.

According to one of the lawyers representing the former trustees, the lawsuit was dismissed because the former trustees did not have the financial ability and emotional willpower to pursue the lawsuit.

A special meeting of the board of trustees will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Robert T. Groh Board Room at the Central Library, located at 89-11 Merrick Blvd. According to sources, the election of officers might be taking place during the meeting.

In addition, the Audit Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. and the Finance & Investments Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m.


Queens Chamber celebrates winners of annual building awards

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted its 99th annual Building Awards on Thursday, recognizing architecture and design of new buildings around the borough.

Out of 100 total entries, just 19 new construction, interior and rehabilitated use projects were selected as winners from various categories, including public use, office space, commercial and residential.

City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod was the keynote speaker at the event in the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel. The Chamber’s President’s Award was given to College Point-based developer Mattone Group.

In terms of new construction, the modern, glassy, three-story commercial building by K.O.H. Architecture at 215-15 Northern Blvd. in Bayside was among the winners. The building is home to a Tiger Schulmann, a Pizza Hut and a day care.

Plaza College’s newly opened campus in the Forest Hills near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike was among winners in the rehabilitative use category. The school moved following a devastating fire that destroyed its Jackson Heights campus at 74-09 37th Ave. The new campus serves 750 students and features labs and medical classrooms.

Mediterranean and soul food fusion restaurant Pa-Nash of Rosedale, which opened in April, was also a winner in the rehabilitative use category, as well as the Queens Library’s redesign of the teen space in the Cambria Heights branch.

Pa-Nash 3

Below is the full list of winners.


New Construction

Category                                                         Project

Schools                                                            Public School 330Q

Commercial                                                     215-15 Northern Blvd., Bayside

Office Buildings                                             Jackson Heights Office Building

Multi-Family, Low Rise

(up to 3 stories)                                               Xiaoyan Jin Residence


Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft.)              Grippi Residence


Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Vaccaro Residence


Multi-Family, High Rise

(4 or more stories)                                           Multi-Family Residential Building

Mixed Use

(residential/commercial/industrial)                  Antonelli Building


Rehabilitation, Readaptive Use, Alteration or Addition

Category                                                         Project

Public Buildings                                             Queens Library @Cambria Heights-Teen Space

Colleges                                                          Plaza College

Schools                                                            P.S. 81Q

Commercial                                                     Pa-Nash Restaurant & Lounge

Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft)               Annie Hsu Residence



Category                                                         Project

Colleges                                              Queens College Rosenthal Library

Commercial                                                     Murphy’s Lobster Grill

Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Long Residence



Queens Library now loaning mobile hot spots

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Queens residents have a new way to connect on the go, and all they need is a library card.

Mobile hot spots are currently available for loan at select Queens Library locations. The devices, which are smaller than most cell phones, provide Internet access to any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, in almost any location.

First-time users will just need to show a photo ID and fill out an agreement to borrow the device. They are available on loan for one month at a time and can be renewed up to three times.

Library card holders can pick up the hot spots at branch locations at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; and 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills. They also will be available at Queens Library in Flushing, at 41-17 Main St., on Dec. 5, and at the Jackson Heights branch, at 35-51 81st St., on Dec. 12.

The library locations lending the devices are also lending free Google tablets. Google’s $1 million donation, along with a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation, made the hot spot program possible, according to the library.

“Far too many New Yorkers do not have regular access to the Internet, and as a result find themselves excluded from a wealth of education, employment and community resources,” said Ben Fried, Google’s chief information officer. “This innovative program to loan hotspots to low-income households is a simple, effective way to help those who need broadband and technology the most. With this donation of $1 million and W-Fi-enabled Chromebooks, Google hopes to give some of the most underserved in our city a way to bridge the tech divide.”


Six ways to give back to Queens for Thanksgiving

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Is it a roof over your head or daily hot meals? Use the Nov. 27 festivities to lend a helping hand by giving back to the community. Listed below are volunteer opportunities where you can participate.

1. The Daily News and City Harvest are collaborating this holiday season from Oct. 21 to Jan. 16 to collect nonperishable food and keep the local food pantries’ cupboards filled in their “Daily News Food Drive.” Their goal for this season is to raise 1 million pounds of food. Queens drop-off locations include the Steinway Goodwill Store at 32-36 Steinway St. and the Van Dam Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. Visit www.cityharvest.org/dailynews to find out more Queens locations.

2. Although volunteer opportunities by Food Bank NYC and New York Cares for the holiday season fill up fast, there are always vacant but competitive positions still up for grabs. Prepare dinner at a local pantry or go on food deliveries throughout Queens. Events are updated daily. Register on www.foodbanknyc.org or www.newyorkcares.org now to secure your holiday volunteer placement. Please note New York Cares does require new registrants to attend a one-hour orientation.

3. The New York City Department of Education annually partners up with Citymeals-on-Wheels for their handmade greeting cards. Schoolchildren are invited to break out their crayons and markers and craft a greeting card that will be handed out alongside a free meal for those homebound during the holiday season. In 2012 alone, 57,187 handmade holiday cards designed by children in private and public schools were distributed. Visit www.citymeals.org/food-for-thought/handmade-greeting-cards to learn more.

4. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens have various ongoing food pantries happening in churches in Queens. Some of the churches include Our Lady of the Angelus at Rego Park and St. Rose of Lima at Far Rockaway. Pantry times and dates vary. Visit www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/parish-community-services to contact a church near to you to assist with any food distribution. Last year, over one million meals were handed out to over 115,000 people throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

5. Have a gently used coat that you no longer need that is just sitting in your closet? The 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive is kicking off on Nov. 17. Call your local Queens Library branch, NYPD and FDNY precincts to see if they are participating in the drive, and drop off a coat to help those in need keep warm this holiday season.

6. Nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia of Rego Park will be handing out food to the hungry on Thanksgiving during their regular hours. Dining hours will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and the food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Packages of free food will be made available to guests after they are done with their hot meal during dinner service. Masbia is located at 98-08 Queens Blvd.

Visit www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-queens or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org for a full listing of food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks active during Thanksgiving in Queens where you can volunteer and donate nonperishable food items. Pantry and kitchen times and dates vary. Call individual locations to find out appropriate times to line up for first-come, first-served food distribution.


Vote for your favorite Queens library

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

It’s time to show your neighborhood library some love.

As of Friday, nominations from the public are being accepted for the second annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards.

The awards, held by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation, honor library branches in the city’s three library systems including the Queens Library.

After receiving nominations from community members, five libraries will be chosen as winners and announced during the award ceremony in May 2015. Each branch will be awarded $20,000.

“Every day, New Yorkers enter their neighborhood libraries to seek the riches of the information age, available to everyone and all for free,” said Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. “These awards celebrate the love New Yorkers have for their libraries.”

Nominations, which are being accepted through Dec. 12, can be submitted at www.nyclibraryawards.org, through each library’s website or in person at any neighborhood library.

The winning branches will be selected by a panel of judges, including authors Jonathan Safran Foer and Jacqueline Woodson, and children’s book publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel.

“Neighborhood libraries in New York City are the center of many of our communities,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “They welcome all New Yorkers and provide vital opportunities to learn, educate, reflect – and better ourselves.”

The inaugural NYC Neighborhood Library Awards brought in more than 4,300 nominations and one of last year’s winners included Corona Library, located on 38-17 104th St., which received $10,000.

Let us know which Queens Library branch is your favorite by commenting below.


Queens Library in Flushing starts lending Google Nexus tablets

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

One year after it first started the program, Queens Library will now lend Google Nexus tablets at its Flushing branch at 41-17 Main St.

The library has been lending the Google tablets for free from many of its other branches since November 2013. A library member needs to show only their Queens Library card in order to borrow a tablet for a month, with three possible renewals. If it’s the first time the library member is borrowing a tablet, they also have to sign an agreement and provide photo ID.

The Queens Library has installed its custom proprietary software in the Nexus tablets it lends in order to make it easy for members who have no experience in using technology to interface with the device. The tablets also come loaded with educational content, feature content, book lists and offline access to e-books and magazines.

The library began its tablet-lending program after Superstorm Sandy. Google, as part of its efforts to help Sandy-affected areas, donated 17,000 tablets. The Queens Library received 5,000 of those devices and began customizing them to suit their members’ needs.

The initiative won the Queens Library the 2014 Best Practices Award, given by the New York Library Association’s Public Libraries Section every two years to a public library or public library system that uses technology to promote its services.


Take a first look at new interior of Sandy-wrecked Peninsula library as construction is set to begin soon

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Queens Library

The long chapter of devastation is coming to an end for the Peninsula library in Rockaway Beach.

The building on Beach 92nd Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard was “the hardest hit” library in the borough by Hurricane Sandy, according to a Queens Library spokeswoman, and has yet to reopen after nearly two years.

Service has been operating out of a trailer since January 2013, but officials are securing permits and bids to complete reconstruction and hope to open the library by early 2015.

“Beginning to rebuild the permanent library was delayed while we worked with FEMA and the city to establish how to proceed,” a representative for the library said. “Since this library had been scheduled for a complete redesign and renovation prior to the storm, we are taking this opportunity to present the community with a greatly enhanced library.”

The rebuilt library will include a larger multipurpose room for public use, which will allow for community events and meetings even if the library is closed.

There will also be a new adult reading area, children’s room and teen area with furniture and computers. Modern customer service equipment will be added, including exterior machines to return books at any time. And a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be added throughout the building as well.

Adult reading area

Officials expect the Department of Buildings to issue permits in a matter of weeks making way for reconstruction to begin.

The Queens Library is collecting bids until Oct. 6 for a contractor to provide mechanical, plumbing and flood barrier renovation work, according to city documents.

In June, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced that he secured more than $700,000 through the Public Library Construction Grant Program to help renovate the Ozone Park library and the Peninsula library. Goldfeder said $582,654 was awarded to the Peninsula library reconstruction.