Steinway Library reopens following $4.9 million rehabilitation project

Steinway Library’s main entrance on 31st Street features a new ADA accessible ramped entrance and a 24/7 exterior book returns machine. (Photo courtesy of QPL)

The Steinway Library in Astoria has reopened to the public after undergoing a $4.9 million makeover.

Queens Public Library and the city Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced that the branch, located at 21-45 31st St., now has a new ADA elevator providing accessibility to all three levels of the building from the cellar to the second floor. The children’s area, teen area and multipurpose room, as well as part of the cellar, were renovated with new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting.

“These crucial upgrades to the building offer the community a library that is more inviting, technologically efficient and accessible to all,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We know the public has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the branch, and we are truly excited to welcome them and serve them once again.”

The renovated children’s and teen areas feature new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting. (Photo courtesy of QPL)

Steinway Library is one of the three original branches that 125 years ago had become part of the Long Island City Public Library system, which was later renamed to Queens Borough Public Library. The current building opened in 1956.

“The historic Steinway Library has been a critical anchor of this community for the generations of families who have passed through its doors,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “With this multimillion-dollar renovation effort complete, all Astoria families, regardless of ability, finally have equitable access to the educational and enrichment opportunities this library provides. Thank you to the Queens Public Library and the NYC Department of Design and Construction for making the project a reality and providing the readers and residents of Astoria with a state-of-the-art facility to learn and grow. They deserve nothing less.”

The branch was closed for renovation in October 2018. The construction included a new ADA-accessible ramped entrance and a 24/7 exterior book returns machine at the main entrance on 31st Street. Three new restrooms were installed in the cellar, including an all-gender, single-occupant, ADA-accessible restroom.

A new elevator shaft sits at the exterior of the library with translucent glass panels to provide diffused light and views into the courtyard. (Photo courtesy of QPL)

“The renovations at Steinway Library improve and update a vital community resource for Astoria; a new elevator also opens the library to more New Yorkers, including persons with disabilities,” DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley said. “This project is an example of the great work we are able to perform on behalf of Queens Public Library to create and enhance educational spaces to communities throughout Queens.”

Funding for the project was provided by the de Blasio administration, former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, former Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and former Councilman Costa Constantinides, who is the current CEO of Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens.

“I grew up reading with my parents, doing my homework and research at Steinway Library. It was a great privilege, as a Council member, to support the renovations of ADA upgrades including an elevator and entrances, a renovated children’s floor and upgrades to the overall building,” Constantinides said. “This work ensures that families in our community can rely on this library into the future and continue to make this our community space. Thank you to Dennis Walcott, QPL and all involved for bringing these renovations to fruition.”

Prior to the pandemic, Steinway Library served nearly 200,000 customers and circulated more than 225,000 materials a year. QPL is in the process of planning additional upgrades to portions of the main floor and cellar as well as a replacement of the HVAC system.