By Rebecca Henely
In the midst of a prominent campaign by the Queens Public Library for private donations so the institution can buy new books, representatives of the system recognized one of their largest donors Friday.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) visited the East Elmhurst Library, at 95-06 Astoria Blvd., where he announced he had donated $50,000 to the Queens Library system through member items so the libraries within his district could buy books.
The money was distributed evenly between the five libraries in Peralta’s district: the East Elmhurst Library, the Jackson Heights Library at 35-51 81st St., the Corona Library at 38-17 104th St., the LeFrak City Library at 98-30 57th Ave. and the Langston Hughes Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd. in Corona.
“I wanted to make sure books are purchased,” Peralta said.
At a ceremony that included a saxophone performance and was attended by the Friends of the East Elmhurst Library as well as by about 30 fifth- and eighth-grade students from East Elmhurst’s PS 127, the East Elmhurst Library’s Community Library Manager Johnnie Dent and Queens Library Chief Executive Officer Tom Galante thanked Peralta for his donation.
Galante said the library had done well with raising money through its Buy-A-Book Drive, but Peralta’s grant was the largest and a boon at a time when the library has had to cut 70 percent of its book budget.
“That’s a huge improvement on what’s available for people to read and borrow,” Galante said of Peralta’s grant.
Peralta said he was glad to be helpful to the library in a time of economic crisis. To the students in the audience, Peralta shared the story of when he got his first library card from the Corona Library when he was a boy. He said he was very excited about it and he treated the card like gold, would often show it to his relatives and tell people what books he took out with the library card.
“I want people to have that feeling about coming to the library,” Peralta said.
The Queens Library also opened two 24-hour, seven-days-a-week self-service return kiosks at branches in western Queens this week, one at the Corona Library and the other at the branch at 40-20 Broadway in Long Island City.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) gave $200,000 to the library for the kiosks and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) gave $250,000.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.