The wait is finally over for Elmhurst residents who’ve been without their community library for four years.
The community’s brand-new, modern, $32.4 million library at 86-01 Broadway formally opened on Tuesday, Dec. 20, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. On hand were various officials including President and CEO Dennis Walcott, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Daniel Dromm and Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora.
It was built on the site of the original Elmhurst library, which closed in 2011 and demolished. The city estimated that it would take two years to demolish the building and erect the new library. Due to several factors, the construction was delayed and the initial $27.8 million price tag grew.
The original library was built in 1906 and it was quickly deemed too small to service the community so several expansions and renovations were made throughout the years. Now, the new library spans 32,000 square feet and four floors; the original building was roughly half the size.
New York-based Marpillero Pollak Architects designed the new branch, which features two green roofs, a cyber center and a Percent for Art installation by the artist Allan McCollum. Book lovers can choose from more than 75,000 books and multimedia for children and adults and 36,000 books and multimedia in nine other languages.
According to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the chair of the council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, the expansion was 15 years in the making. Former Queens Borough President Helen Marshall allocated $23 million for the project after noticing how heavily the building was used.
“I remember we came literally 15 years ago to the old library, walked [Marshall] through and the people were piled on top of each other,” said Van Bramer, who previously worked for Queens Library. “[They were] literally reading on floors because this library has always been so well used and the community desperately wanted it and she said, ‘Oh no, this can’t be any more.’ She said, ‘We have to build a new library.'”
The library is expected to be one of the busiest in the country with at least 1.2 million visitors a year.
Elmhurst resident Lam Lu came to the grand opening with her 10-year-old niece, Rachel. Lu said she enjoys the design of the new library because it features “more light, more windows” and is “spacious” compared to the old building.
Her niece was glad to see that designers incorporated more color into the new structure.
“It’s awesome because it’s very new and the books are good,” she said. “It’s colorful and I like colorful things.”
The library will be open on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.