By Rebecca Henely
It was a night where visitors to the library were allowed to make some noise. With a slideshow, a live band, presents and a big cake, Queens Library officials, legislators and community members celebrated the Woodside Library’s 100th anniversary last Thursday.
“Woodside Community Library has been a welcome participant in Woodside’s history and we wish it a very happy birthday,” said Catherine Gregory, a Woodside historian who made a presentation on the library’s history.
More than 100 people of all ages crammed into the main area of the library at 54-22 Skillman Ave., hanging over the balcony and squeezing behind the computers and shelves, as Thomas Galante, chief executive officer of the Queens Library, led the celebration. A live band played during the evening and refreshments, including a birthday cake, were served afterward.
In her presentation, Gregory explained how Woodside’s library began as a traveling collection housed in a general store on Woodside Avenue around 1908. The Woodside library became an official Queens branch in 1910 and its current location on Skillman opened in 1939 on the former woodland of saloon-owner William Hyman.
The current location underwent a renovation in 1960, then major structural reconstruction with a new entrance and extensions in 1963 and finally was renovated to be handicap accessible in 1999. Gregory also said the library had once housed students from PS 11 at 54-25 Skillman Ave. for five years and bookbinding had once been done in the library.
“These books and materials within these walls have educated Woodsiders for 100 years,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said.
Galante commended state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) and Van Bramer, who was once chief external affairs officer at the Queens Library, for their advocacy on behalf of the library.
“It’s so important we come together as a community and recognize what we already have,” Van Bramer said.
Markey also presented the Woodside Library with a resolution to be filed in the state archives that recognized the branch on its 100th anniversary.
“It’s really a wonderful center for the people in Woodside,” she said.
The library got a second present from Barbara Coleman of the Woodside Civic Association: a binder full of documents and letters related to Woodside’s history. Coleman said some of the documents included letters from luminaries such as the late New York U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and former President Bill Clinton.
“We look forward to being a part of this community for the next 100 years to come,” Coleman said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.