April 19, 2018

Queens Library Gets $14 Million More for Capital Improvements

Queens LibraryIn early May, LJ reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed executive budget was set to cut $10 million in funding from New York City library systems. Library advocates rallied against the Mayor’s prospective cuts, and in June there was a massive turnaround—for FY16, the Mayor’s announced budget ultimately included a cumulative $43 million for Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library (QL).

According to director of communications Joanne King, QL was allocated $6 million from that budget for capital improvements. In addition, the library received $15.7 million from City Council and, in a recent August 3rd press release, it was announced that Queens Borough President Melinda Katz allocated $14 million more.

Katz’s allocation will benefit 12 QL branches—Arverne, Baisley Park, Bay Terrace, Douglaston/Little Neck, East Flushing, Flushing, Ozone Park, Rosedale, St. Albans, South Ozone Park, Steinway, and Woodhaven—contributing to renovations, new security cameras, an upgraded HVAC system, a new elevator, and a roof replacement.

Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of QL, said in a statement that she “greatly appreciates the investment Borough President Katz is making in library infrastructure and technology. Creating inviting, inspiring spaces and keeping our library buildings in a state of good repair protects the resources our community libraries offer, and ensures a welcoming and secure environment for millions of customers.”

Queens Library board of trustees chair Carl S. Koerner agreed, “It will allow the library to substantially upgrade its infrastructure, providing a better environment for library customers.”

Fortunately, the allocations come on top of previous help. From 2005 to 2013, legislators allocated $269 million for QL’s construction, which allowed the Library to “expand sorely overcrowded and outdated facilities” and include more patron-friendly facilities—renovations included the installation of self-checkout and 24/7 self-check in equipment, the creation of Cyber Centers, and teen areas.

Construction will take several years. At the St. Albans branch, the process is expected to begin in 18 months to two years and take approximately three years to complete. At Baisley Park, construction is expected to begin in 18 months and take approximately two and a half years.

Expanding Service

In addition to the QL’s capital allocations, $12 million was allocated for improving and expanding operating services, King told LJ. Vikki Terrile, director of community library services, told LJ that this allocation will have a more “immediate impact” on patrons.

The $12 million for operating expenses will allow QL to hire additional staff, “including librarians, custodial staff, and youth counselors”, purchase additional library materials, increase access to programs and services, and provide library service six days a week. In reference to the prospective six-day service, New York City Council majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer said in a press release, “…[QL] offer[s] hope and opportunity while striking a blow against inequality. Libraries are a lifeline to so many but they must be open to perform their life enhancing work.”