August 31, By Tara Law
The revamped and expanded Kew Gardens Hills Community Library is scheduled to reopen Wednesday, more than two years after the branch closed for construction.
The library, located at 72-33 Vleigh Place, will be more than 11,000 square feet, approximately 3,000 square feet larger than the existing structure built in 1967.
The overhaul has created open spaces and separate areas for adults, teens and children. The building now features a Jewish reading and reference area, which includes 400 Hebrew and 600 Russian items. There is also conference room.
The library will include 17 desktop computers and there will be 10 laptops available for check out.
The building features an open, modern design and includes environmentally friendly features such as a green roof. The design is meant to resemble an open book, and is notable for its facade made of glass fiber reinforced concrete.
“It is a spectacular building,” said Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Queens Library. “I think a lot of people will enjoy it very much.”
Crowding at the Kew Gardens Hill library led to the need for its expansion. Prior to closing, the branch drew 155,400 people each year and had a circulation of 282,000.
The project took years to complete, and many residents criticized the Department of Design and Construction, which oversaw the project, for the long wait.
The groundbreaking took place in April 2013 and the existing library closed in February 2015 for the project to be completed.
A plaque will be hung in the library to honor Pat Dolan, a longtime civic advocate. Civic leaders who knew her credit her as the lead advocate for the project before her death in November 2011.
The library will open September 6 at 10 a.m. Several officials will be on hand to cut the ribbon.
Marc Haken, chair of the Youth, Education and Library community board committee that covers Flushing South, said that the public is looking forward to the opening.
“Every project runs over,” said Haken. “People may be angry, but you want the damn library.”