Queens Public Library marks the 70th anniversary of its continued presence at the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing complex in the nation, with the expansion of its Tech Lab services to four days a week, as demand for digital literacy programs grow in western Queens.
Located at 10-43 41st Ave. in Long Island City, the Tech Lab is a hub of innovation and technology in the community hosting workshops on a wide range of tech topics for all ages, and helps customers build critical skills to succeed in school and the workplace.
“Expanding our services at Queensbridge Houses Tech Lab will help residents and others who live nearby develop the high-demand skills and knowledge needed for many positions in today’s job market,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We are grateful to the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the New York City Housing Authority for partnering with us to narrow the digital divide by widening free access to economic and educational opportunities for all.”
The Tech Lab offers tutorials and workshops on general computer use, audio and video editing, graphic design, 3D printing, web development, computer programming, and video game design. It also provides access to specialized software like Audacity. Adobe Creative Suite, QuickBooks Pro, and Scratch, as well as to Maker Space, Arduino microcontrollers, and Little Bits electronic kits.
“The Queensbridge Tech Lab is a vital part of making Queensbridge a model connected community where residents have the tools, skills and spaces to make full and creative use of the free broadband service provided by the city,” Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer Deputy CTO Joshua Breitbart said. “This library branch is a proud part of this community’s history, and we are thrilled to help make it a platform for its future.”
This summer, in an effort to go beyond its walls, the Lab launched a community project to explore local urban ecology and experience STEM learning in a creative setting. As part of the project, on Saturday, July 13, participants will board the BioBus, a mobile lab equipped with microscopes and staffed by scientists, and analyze water quality in the area.
“Thanks to our partnership with the Queens Public Library, Queensbridge Houses residents of all ages have capitalized on having a tech lab in there community that has provided digital literacy programming,” NYCHA Executive VP Sideya Sherman said.
Although public library systems in Chicago and other U.S. cities have only recently started offering library services in the public housing complexes, Queens Public Library’s Queensbridge outpost opened in 1949 serving as a library branch and then as a family literacy center, before becoming a Tech Lab.
“The Queensbridge Library has been a vital resource in the Queensbridge community for years,” Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association President April Simpson said. “Since I was a child, the residents of Queensbridge utilized the Queens Public Library. Students used it for school work, parents for bettering themselves on their jobs. Residents also used it for research, fun ways of learning, and just a place to go and read a book. Their services continued because they offer effective ways of learning for all ages. I support them and pray they stay in the community for ever. I am proud of my Queensbridge Library. Congratulations on a job well done.”