The Queens Central Library is showing off its new look, as two of the three phases of renovations have been completed. This is the first major renovation to occur in this facility since it opened in 1966.
The first phase, which was fully functional in 2012, included ADA-compliant bathrooms, electronic scheduling for computer use, and a new cyber center.
The second phase was unveiled and opened to the public last Friday. With an expanded media center, self-checkout stations and a general reference area, the old facility is looking new again. The second phase of the project cost an estimated $47.8 million.
Along with these new additions, the library also announced a new quiet room and specialized job information and health reference areas.
With over 2 million visitors annually, it has become the main public research library in the borough, prompting the makeover.
Library officials said that even the architect, Gensler, wanted to design the new layout of the facility as a reflection of Queens, with a décor that features dynamic, high-energy color.” Some of the art hanging on the walls is of iconic scenes of Queens.
For example, in the media center, the aisles have black-and-white images of old movie theaters from the borough’s past.
The media center, which was in the basement of the facility at one time, is now just off the main lobby, which had a wall removed to create more space for customers.
Frank Lashley is a longtime patron of the Central Library, and travels 20 minutes each way just to get to the library. Lashley said it’s worth it for the selection that the new media center has to offer.
“It’s ten times better than what it was,” he said. “They have more of a selection.”
Borough President Helen Marshall was on hand for the opening and spoke about the importance of libraries in the community.
“This library is a tremendous resource…for thousands of users who may want to expand their education, advance their careers or research a health-related issue,” she said.
Marshall has allocated $16 million in capital funds to the Central Library alone, and over $117 million overall for libraries in Queens since she took office nearly 12 years ago.
Another major funder of the project is Councilman Leroy Comrie, who allocated $7 million in capital funds.
“With the Adult Reading and Reference area re-opening, the Central Library will be able to continue to actively serve Queens residents now and into the future,” he said.
The next phase will be open in 2014 and include a new entrance to the library and customer service desks. One unique aspect the library will feature is a café and gift shop. A teen area with separate study and creative areas, quiet and program rooms will also be constructed.