Court Square community rallies for permanent home for beloved library branch

Rally for QPL at Ct Square (3)
Courtesy of Van Bramer’s office

A day after Queens Public Library and Citi reached an agreement with Citi that enables its Court Square branch to remain open at its current location until March 2020, community leaders rallied outside One Court Square Wednesday calling for a permanent home for their library. QPL opened the branch in a 3,200-square-foot ground floor space in 1989 paying $1 month on a sublease deal that was to expire in August.

“Extending the Queens Public Library’s sublease at Court Square is an important, short-term win, but we will not stop fighting until we secure a permanent home,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “The Court Square Library is an indispensable resource for our rapidly growing community. We must do all we can to protect, enhance, and expand it invaluable services. Closing a public library is never an option.”

The Court Square branch attracts nearly 100,000 people a year, and offers hundreds of programs for the growing community of residents and employees of local businesses and government and nonprofit organizations.

“The outpouring of support for the Court Square branch from this community, our elected officials, Citi and others is a major indicator of the importance of this library,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “It further fuels our determination to find a permanent space for this treasured asset that has put tens of thousands of people on a path to success.”

Savanna, the real estate company that bought the 53-story tower formerly known as the Citigroup Building, is said to be seeking market rent for the space. Savanna was burned by Amazon’s decision to scuttle its HQ2 campus plan in Long Island City, as the e-commerce giant was set to lease more than 1.5 million square feet of office space in the tower to use as a temporary headquarters during the build-out of the HQ2 complex.

“Local residents are grateful the Court Square Library lease was extended through early 2020, however this is a continuation of ad-hoc band aid solutions we’ve seen,” Court Square Civic Association President Frank Wu said. “More permanent solutions need to be found for the community, including placement of a new zoned elementary school that we’ve been promised.”

Meghan Cirrito, the president of the Friends of Court Square Library, explained why the community was so upset about pending sublease expiration.

“The Friends of Court Square Library are pleased that our beloved community library will be staying in its current location until next March,” she said. “The public library is a vital ‘third place’ for Long Island City and we will continue to support and advocate for Court Square Library, its staff, and the surrounding community. Public library service is a right, not a luxury.”

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