March 8, 2022 By Christian Murray
The Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library is scheduled to reopen in April after being closed since March 2020.
The branch closed along with the rest of the library system at the start of COVID-19 but has not fully reopened since—due to a faulty HVAC system and the construction of a second elevator.
The library was the busiest in the country before it closed and the Queens Public Library, which oversees the branch, has come under fire for it being shut for so long given its importance to the neighborhood. The branch drew 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and serves as a hub for Flushing’s diverse community.
“I’m so relieved that we finally have an idea when the Flushing Library will reopen to the public,” said Council Member Sandra Ung who visited the branch on Friday. “This library is more than a place to check out books, it’s the heart of the Flushing community. Especially in an immigrant community like ours, the library is essential to seniors and families, as well as a place for students to gather after school.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng, in a tweet, said that she too is excited that it is opening.
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) March 4, 2022
The building has been in limited use since it closed to the public in March 2020. The branch did open to staff in July 2020 to help distribute books and materials across the vast library system. In November 2020, the branch then started offering to-go service.
The library was later used as a vaccination hub before its cooling and heating system failed in May 2021 causing it to fully close in July. Then in December, the library announced plans to install a second elevator and renovate its existing one.
Queens Public Library said that it will be installing a temporary HVAC system in time for the warm weather and that it will continue to work to install the new elevator by largely undertaking construction at night. When the new elevator is completed the existing one will be renovated.
“The elevator project will be an enormous benefit to the more than 5,000 people who come through this library’s doors on a typical day,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott in a statement. “We know how much the library means to the people of Flushing and beyond, and we look forward to seeing it come to life again.”
Prior to the pandemic, people from all five boroughs routinely visited the library to pick up materials in dozens of languages and dialects, read, study, gather with one another, or attend one of the hundreds of English classes, GED prep courses, technology workshops, job readiness classes, and other programs offered there each year.
The 77,000 square-foot building includes a 227-seat auditorium, a multi-purpose room for 150, conference rooms, exhibition areas, an Adult Learning Center and an International Resource Center.
An exact date for its reopening has yet to be announced.