Queens Public Library to celebrate 125th anniversary with virtual gala event

Elmhurst Library will host the QPL virtual gala fundraising event with Awkwafina and other Queens personalities. (QNS file photo)

For 125 years, Queens Public Library (QPL) has offered free access to knowledge, information and opportunity for borough residents — and on Tuesday, June 8, it will celebrate its long history and commitment to the people of Queens with a virtual gala.

This special event, which will be streamed live from the library’s Elmhurst branch, is open to the public. The gala was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the course of its 125-year history, Queens Public Library has remained one of the most dynamic cultural and educational institutions in the city of New York, helping millions and millions learn, discover and grow through good times and through challenging times,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past year will be remembered as one of the most consequential we have ever seen, and thanks to the unwavering support of our staff, our board of trustees, the foundation’s board of directors, our founders, our elated leaders, our government partners, our volunteers, friends groups and the people of Queens, we have emerged stronger and more effective than ever.”

The event will feature a number of guests including Awkwafina, the former Forest Hills resident actress, writer, producer and comedian known for her hit show “Nora from Queens,” among other performances. Additional guests include former Jackson Heights resident Hari Kondabolu from the Netflix special “Warn Your Relatives”; Daymond John, the star of “Shark Tank,” who grew up in Hollis; and Elmhurst native MinJin Lee, who wrote “Free Food for Millionaires” and “Pachinko.”

When the pandemic forced QPL to close its physical locations in March 2020, the library expanded its collections of e-books, e-magazines and other digital offerings, and began providing a robust array of programs and resources, including story times, book clubs, homework help, resume assistance and job search help.

QPL also partnered with the city to convert several branches into COVID-19 rapid testing and vaccination sites.

Last July, the library opened for to-go service at many of its locations, and in May, it began reintroducing in-person reference, computer use and browsing.

“This past year has only reinforced the value of Queens Public Library,” Queens Public Library Foundation President Carl S. Koerner said. “The library has been a lifeline for individuals and communities across Queens during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when they needed connection, information, and to keep learning. Our virtual gala will go a long way towards ensuring the library not only continues to deliver essential resources and services that sustain us, but also broadens its offerings. We hope that as many members of the public in Queens and beyond will consider joining us for this special event.”

For more information, to make a donation and to register for the free gala event, visit QPL’s Eventbrite page here.

The virtual gala event gets underway at 6 p.m. on June 8.