“We are very excited for this highly anticipated event,” Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante said. “This was made possible through the generous contributions and hard work of your elected representatives.”
The library re-opened to the public in August after being closed nearly a year to complete the $2.3 million in renovations. The highlights include a new roof, media center, additional computers, and a new young adult/teen area.
According to Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, the goal of the improvements was to create a more modern library while maintaining a welcoming atmosphere.
“The old libraries had a cold look to them,” Nolan said. “We wanted to stay ahead of the curve while creating a warm and inviting feel both inside and out.”
Members of the community seem to agree that the improvements have done just that.
“I have had a lot of people comment to me how beautiful the library looks,” library employee Barbara Murphy said. “The new media center has gotten a lot of positive reviews.”
Sunnyside resident Laura Cramer agrees.
“The improvements are fantastic,” Cramer said. “It is really stunning how great everything looks. I think this is great for the community and for the kids especially.”
A majority of the funding for the project came as a result of money secured by Nolan and members of the Queens delegation in the Assembly. Together, Nolan and the delegation were able to ensure that nearly $2 million in tax money was dedicated to the library improvements.
The remaining funding came from the City Council. Newly elected Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and former library employee emphasized the importance of a library to the community.
“You can’t have a community without a library,” Van Bramer said. “Libraries are so much more than just books. They break down social and linguistic barriers while bringing generations together.”
The celebration of the renovations comes in a time of uncertainty for the Queens Library and its employees. In the 2009 fiscal year, the library sustained $9 million in budget cuts, or 9 percent of its operating budget. Two weeks ago the Queens Library announced that beginning in February, 14 branches will have to cut back due to lack of funds and will no longer serve its customers on the weekends.
“Libraries across the city are cutting back,” Assemblyman Michael Gianaris said. “The fact that we are growing and improving here is a testament to the dedication of your city council members.”
Galante closed the ceremony with words of encouragement for the people of Queens.
“We are all in tough times,” Galante said. “But the Queens Library will be here for you today and tomorrow.”