Library foundation finished

Library foundation finished
Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

The journey to reopen the Elmhurst Library reached a major milestone last week as construction was completed on the foundation for the library’s new 30,000-square-foot building.

“I’m happy that the residents of Elmhurst will have the library they so richly deserve,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who took part in a ceremonial pouring-in of the last of the foundation July 25.

Elmhurst Library, at 86-01 Broadway, has had a presence in the community since the early 20th century as one of the many libraries built through the efforts of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It has gone through four expansions since its 1906 opening.

But Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante said when he visited the library before its closing, he saw people waiting for 20 minutes in line to check out a book and 200 children using the basement at once. The Queens Library system had enough money for an additional expansion, but he knew the people of Elmhurst required a completely new building.

“We really need to do something big here,” Galante said.

The former building was closed in November. The new 30,000-square-foot building will include a cyber center with 32 computers, an adult learning center, gardens in the back and front of the building and separate areas for adults, teenagers and children. The original bricks from the Carnegie Library will be used for the building’s facade, and the original fireplace will be reinstalled in the children’s room. There will also be a section dedicated to the library’s history.

Marpillero Pollak Architects and Stalco Construction are building the new Elmhurst Library. Linda Pollak, one of the architects for the project, said the building was being designed with glass walls in some sections, which would both allow the library users to see out and make the building attractive to passersby.

“It’s a lot about opening and really welcoming all people in and connecting them across generations,” she said.

The $27.8 million project was paid for through Marshall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). It should be open in 2014.

Dromm said Elmhurst is the fastest-growing part of his district. He said when the library was open, it was the second-most used in Queens, and even though the Elmhurst library now operates out of a temporary building nearby, it is still the seventh busiest out of the borough’s 62 libraries.

“We want to make sure that the services that the community needs are here,” Dromm said.

The temporary site for the library is 85-08 51st Ave. in Elmhurst. Its adult learning center currently operates out of the St. James Gymnasium, at 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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