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.”