By Phil Corso
Judging by its cover, the new Glen Oaks branch of the Queens Library should wow book lovers and other residents throughout northeast Queens upon its anticipated opening this spring, those familiar with the project said.
The $17.1 million project, at 255-01 Union Tnpk., will boast three levels, totaling 18,000 square feet and a brand new and celebrated transparent exterior, according to Joanne King, communications director for the Queens Library.
“This building is very distinctive and nearly double the size of the previous library,” King said.
The original building, constructed in 1956, became a hub of overcrowding and limited space as the Glen Oaks community grew, King said.
“This new space accommodates the new standards in library service, which are very different now than in the past,” King said. “Now libraries are a community space where people collaborate, relax, gather and socialize. This new building is constructed in a way that allows that to happen.”
King said the city Department of Design and Construction constructed the new building and some of the world’s top architects contributed to the project through the mayor’s Excellence in Architecture initiative.
City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said the entire, decade-long process started back when his brother and current state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) served as councilman for the region. Both Weprins’ fund-raising coupled with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office to underwrite the project.
“It is going to be a beautiful, very unique-looking library,” Mark Weprin said. “We’ll have an architecturally acclaimed building with a lot of services that will benefit our community.”
The new handicap-accessible building will include a sweeping interior staircase as well as separate adults’, children’s and teens’ sections throughout the library equipped with computer workstations. And according to King, all operations were environmentally friendly enough to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.
Architecture, design and research group Marble Fairbanks assembled a group of 15 to design the new Glen Oaks library with hopes of providing members of the community with new opportunities to meet and interact, the company said.
A sky-lit reading lounge will also accompany two common meeting rooms for community programming as well as a new outdoor area, King said.
Outside, a 24-hour self-service check-in station will allow patrons to return library materials on the go.
Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said his community could not be happier with its newest addition after a long and anxious wait.
“As you know, we have been waiting for years,” Friedrich said. “In fact, it has taken twice as long to build this library as it did to construct the Empire State Building. Nevertheless, the design of the library is beautiful and the community is very excited.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.