By Angel Torres
Long Island City’s Hunters Point Library opened to the public on Tuesday after $40 million in construction and a decade in the making, and book lovers across Queens are rejoicing.
"It's probably the single most important project of my life," Western Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer told Patch during the library’s press preview last week. Van Bramer, who was previously a Queens Public Library staffer, helped to push the library to its completion.
Steven Holl, the library’s architect, spoke at the ribbon cutting of how one of the residential buildings across the street offered up a few floors for the library for free, but ultimately, it was decided that the project needed to make a vertical statement. It needed to stand tall among the residential buildings that surround it, and stand as a building worthy of jealousy from the Manhattan residents who can see it on the shoreline.
“We could’ve built this whole building on a single floor. It would just be a splat in front of these condominiums,” Holl said. “I said no. Not only will this be a presence, it will give all the people in the building amazing views to Manhattan … This building is for the future.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was opened up by Queens Public Library President Dennis Walcott, who extolled the multitude of people who made the new library a reality.
Gary Strong, former Queens Public Library president, was also in attendance, and spoke about the significance of the building.
“Libraries represent a fundamental public good in our democracy,” Strong said. “The library in this community ensures the right the privilege and the ability of individuals to pursue any direction of thought, study, or action. The library provides the intellectual capital to understand the past and plan for the future. It is our collective memory.”
The ribbon cutting also included a water-shooting show by the NYC Fire Department boat right on the waterfront by the library.
The library features a collection of 50,000 books, movies, audio books, albums, magazines and more. The library also has a large selection in Chinese and Spanish, and any media can be requested in any of the dozens of languages spoken in Queens, according to Euni Chang, Hunters Point library manager.
The library also features programs for people of all ages, from programs catered toward adults and events specifically designed for babies and toddlers.
“Come in. Talk to us. Spend some time with us. Our doors are open to you,” Chang said. “We are here for you. This is your place.”