Without the advocacy of the now late Patricia Dolan, the project to expand the library at 72-33 Vleigh Place, first opened in 1954, might not have been possible.
Dolan died last November after she was hit by a car, but her dream of expanding the library has been fulfilled.
Borough President Helen Marshall, along with several key local political figures remembered Dolan and looked toward the future of the community’s vibrant meeting place.
“Today we break ground for a new generation of library users who need more space, more resources and more state-of-the-art technology in their local branch to pursue their interest, careers and dreams,” said Marshall.
While the renovations, which should be complete in 2015, are underway, a temporary library at 71-34 Main Street will be available for patrons.
The expansion will add 3,000 square feet to the library, including increased space for adults, teens and children.
“The expansion and renovation of Queens Library at Kew Gardens Hills will be like a new library for the community,” said Thomas Galante, president and CEO of the Queens Library.
The project, designed by WORK Architects, will also double the number of public-use computers, fast self-checkout, and expanded meeting rooms. The estimated cost of the work is $10 million.
Aside from its educational value, the library also acts as a magnet that unites the neighborhood.
“There is a conglomeration of people in the neighborhood, but when they are in the library, everybody seems to get along,” said Joanne Tobin, a longtime volunteer for the library.
Congresswoman Grace Meng was on hand for the groundbreaking, and pointed out the importance of libraries in the community.
“As a parent, there are fewer places more important than a library,” she said. “It is such an important investment towards society and to our country.”