If you've ever been to the Woodhaven branch of the Queens Public Library after three o'clock on any weekday afternoon, you probably appreciate the pictures we found in the library archives at the Long Island Division in Jamaica.
These olden-time pictures from the 1930s and 1940s depict what an ideal library should be: stately places of repose where grand civic ideas might be pondered, the labyrinth of public information navigated. Downstairs, in a space dedicated to their needs and interests, children stop to read or listen to programs that mask their instruction with delight.
Today's library, by contrast, is the soggy diaper other side of the world of high tech conveniences. It's crowded, loud and hardly the place one might go to do research, some reading or to update a resumé.
The recent announcement that the Woodhaven branch would receive necessary upgrades and restoration work is welcome news to everyone.
The renovation is to feature an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant elevator and exterior ramp and will include renovations of the entrance, windows of the original structure completed in 1924, one of the last Carnegie libraries to be built. Work on the basement will include a new program room and the return of the children's room.
According to Anthony O'Reilly in the Queens Chronicle, the renovation will cost $2.9 Million, with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz "providing $1.5 million, and $1.274 million from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley." O'Reilly also mentions how Borough President Katz already committed $122,000 for security cameras for the Woodhaven library, part of $14 Million in funding from her office.
Jon Cronin in the Queens Tribune quotes Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King in reporting that the work will take three-and-a-half years, with one for design and two-and-a-half for construction, which "will be done in phases to minimize the impact on library service."
There was no mention of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) classroom that is currently in its second year of operation in the basement of the Woodhaven branch.