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Auburndale library gets major makeover

P.S. 24 fourth-graders John DeCastro and Leah Tsambazis show off their library cards at the reopening of the Auburndale branch of the Queens Library system Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
By Connor Adams Sheets

The Queens Library at Auburndale reopened to great fanfare Friday after a year of renovations which transformed it into a fully modernized, attractive facility.

The $680,000 undertaking to revamp the space at 25-55 Francis Lewis Blvd. provided for the installation of interior RFID technology for self-check-in and -check-out, while adding a teen area, new furnishings for the adult and children areas, new lighting and carpeting and all-new laptop counters.

The opening was hosted by Tom Galante, the Queens Library chief executive officer, who said he was excited to continue the sweep of improvements throughout the borough.

“Our libraries are being renovated, our libraries are open and they’re here to be enjoyed,” he said.

Leah Tsambazis, a Flushing fourth-grader at PS 24 who attended the event along with other members of the fourth- and fifth-grade classes there, said she enjoys the new appearance of the library, which features colorful paint schemes and simple, attractive furniture.

“I like that they have a big selection of books so it encourages kids to read. I like to read fantasy books,” she said. “It’s more than just books, it’s also good for kids to do their homework because it’s quiet and they have computers.”

Also in attendance were are elected officials, including state Assembly members Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

“I have been coming to this branch since I was 4 years old,” Carrozza said. “This is a real shot in the arm and it generates a little more excitement for us to come to the library and utilize it to explore the world.”

The funding for the project — which was the 37th Queens Library location to be renovated in the past eight years — was provided by the New York state and city governments. The Northeast Flushing Civic Association also donated $750 for new books, an amount the Queens County Savings Bank matched.

Van Bramer, who worked for Queens Library for 11 years before taking office, was instrumental in ensuring that funding for libraries was not decimated in this year’s budget deliberations. He advocated passionately at the re-opening for ensuring the money is not slashed in the future.

“Even in difficult times, everybody knows we need to keep our libraries open,” he said. “If we can’t keep their doors open, they can’t do any good.”

One more improvement that will be coming to the location is a new check-in station on the exterior of the building. Operated much like an ATM, it will be a 24-hour access point for people to return materials.

John DeCastro, a Whitestone fourth-grader at PS 24 who attended the event with his fellow classmates, said he is thrilled the branch is open once again.

“I haven’t been to the library for about a year — since it closed — and I love reading mystery books,” he said. “It’s open to everyone who loves reading, so if you love reading, come to the library.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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