After years of construction, Queens Public Library’s Glendale branch has finally reopened to the public.
The library celebrated its reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, with local elected officials, community leaders and representatives from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), which oversaw the project.
Built in 1935 through the federal Works Progress Administration, the library has been a staple in the community for decades. But it has not been fully accessible to all patrons.
The $6.9 million renovation project, which was brought to life by Matthew Baird Architects and Neelam Construction Corporation, made the building fully ADA compliant and more organized and functional overall.
“Libraries are a great way to bring those indispensable resources to local communities like Glendale and serve as a center of learning, as well as valuable community spaces,” said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “This improvement makes the library user friendly for all patrons and brings back some of the historic grandeur of the building.”
The renovation includes an elevator and ramp entrance, all while maintaining the building’s original Italian Renaissance design.
To improve overall circulation and accessibility, many of the library’s features have been repurposed and restored, including a new teen/adult reading room and the new and improved rear garden.
Congresswoman Grace Meng highlighted the role Queens Public Library plays in the lives of local families, regardless of their backgrounds.
“The library is a place where kids come to do their homework, where veterans come home to look for jobs, where new immigrants come to learn English and develop job skills,” she said.
Because so many residents depend on the library, many of them voiced their concerns about the long closure to elected officials, including Councilman Bob Holden and State Senator Joe Addabbo.
In response, the library transferred its services to a temporary location in The Shops at Atlas Park.
One of the most prominent advocates for the library to continue operating during the renovation was Vincent Arcuri, Jr., chair of Community Board 5 and former president of the Queens Public Library Foundation,
The Glendale branch has been close to his heart for 75 years, as the first book he learned how to read was taken from its shelves.
Because of stories like Arcuri’s, Holden describes the Glendale branch as an oasis for the neighborhood and views it as a model for the rest of the district. He said that he would like to help make another library happen for residents of Middle Village before he leaves office.
“This is where you come to travel around the world or to other universes,” he said. “It’s unbelievable what books can do for a person and where they can take them, so that’s why this is such an important place.”