BY JAMES FARRELL
The Queens Library branch in Flushing reopened its children’s room last week following a 21-month, $1.5 million renovation.
The reopening was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott and featured a number of local leaders and officials.
But the guests of honor were second graders from PS 244, who, behind music teacher Kim Ilardi, performed a rendition of the song “I’m Growing Up” and a remix of the folk tune “Great Big House,” renamed “Welcome To My Library,” which featured multiple vocal components and a dance routine.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow, that was excellent,’” Walcott said after the performances. “What a complicated piece!”
The children got to explore the new room, which, at 5,880 square feet, is 900 feet larger than the previous room and features a wider selection of books, new computers and new furniture—including tables with power outlets. There’s also a new Early Learning Center with an expanded collection, puppet theater and playhouse. A highlight is the wall of detachable Lego blocks, which was a smash with both children and their parents, according to Flushing Branch Manager Donna Ciampa.
“I had to tear myself away from the wall because I was having such a good time,” she said.
The renovation also featured a curved book feature wall in the adult area of the library as well as touch-screen catalogs.
“All of us who worked on this project are proud to have been a part of it and we hope you enjoy the results,” Ciampa added.
The ceremony drew a number of local elected officials, including Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) as well as representatives for U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing).
“Children are our future; that’s why we invest in children,” Koo said. “That’s why we clear a special room for you because we want you to be our future leaders—our next librarians, police officers, politicians, doctors, nurses all start from reading books.”
Walcott gave special accolades to Ciampa and the former Flushing Branch Manager, Ruth Herzberg, for their work in assuring the project’s completion.
“This project is a longstanding project that predates me many, many, many years,” Walcott said. “A very difficult project, a very longstanding project and it’s a project that will pay benefits for years to come.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.