Queens Library

Queens Library
Type Public
Established 1896
Location Queens (New York City)
Coordinates 40°42′28″N 073°47′42″W / 40.70778°N 73.79500°W / 40.70778; -73.79500Coordinates: 40°42′28″N 073°47′42″W / 40.70778°N 73.79500°W / 40.70778; -73.79500
Branches 62
Size 7.5 million items
Access and use
Circulation 15,700,000 in FY 14
Population served 2,270,338 (Queens)
Members nearly 929,000 active borrowers in FY 14
Other information
Budget $128,147,000 (FY 13)
Website www.queenslibrary.org

The Queens Library (QL), also known as the Queens Borough Public Library, is the public library for the Borough of Queens and one of three library systems serving New York City. It is one of the largest library systems in the world by circulation, having loaned 13.5 million items in the 2015 fiscal year. It was named “2009 Library of the Year” by Library Journal. According to its website, the library holds about 7.5 million items, of which 1.4 million are at its central library in Jamaica, Queens.[1]

Dating back to the foundation of the first Queens library in Flushing in 1858, QL has become one of the largest public library systems in the United States, comprising some 62 branches throughout the borough. It has high annual circulation, and is one of the largest libraries in the country in terms of the size of its collection. QL serves Queens' population of almost 2.3 million, including one of the largest immigrant populations in the country. Consequently, a large percentage of QL's collections are in non-English languages, particularly Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Russian.[2] QL is separate both from the New York Public Library, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Public Library, which only covers Brooklyn.


Old Central Library

The first library in Queens was founded in 1858 in Flushing as a subscription service. It became a free circulation library in 1869.

In the late 19th century, several local libraries were founded in western Queens. The libraries in Astoria, Long Island City and Steinway formed the Long Island City Public Library in 1896, becoming Queens' first multi-branch library.

In 1901, shortly after the consolidation of Queens into New York City, the city government proposed a new charter joining all libraries in Queens into the Queens Borough Public Library. All of the public libraries signed on, except for Flushing, which remained independent until 1903.

Due to the wide variation in population density in Queens, in 1906, the QL established small branches in store-fronts and shopping areas under the Traveling Library program. With these branches QL grew swiftly, eventually opening major branches in almost every Queens neighborhood.

The original Central Library on Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica was opened in 1930 and expanded with WPA funds in 1941. It was a splendid four-story Renaissance Revival building. In spite of its elegance, it was too small for the demand and was replaced by a new, more spacious facility in 1966, through the persistent efforts of the Library Director, Harold W. Tucker.

$240,000 donated by Andrew Carnegie was used for the construction of seven new Carnegie libraries between 1904 and 1924 in the most heavily—populated areas of the borough. Four of these buildings (Astoria, Poppenhusen, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven) are still in use. They are characterized by their stately solidity and expensive decorative details. The Carnegie-era Flushing Branch was demolished for a more modern building in the 1950s, and the Far Rockaway Branch was destroyed by fire in 1962.

Library branches were added slowly as the borough’s population expanded. By 1946, Queens Library had 44 branches plus the Central Library and a very active bookmobile.

Many additional branches had been approved to be built between 1954–1965, but were not completed due to a New York City fiscal crisis. Additional funds were given to the library system by the federal Library Services and Construction Act to finish the Central Library, Flushing and Far Rockaway branches. In the 1990s interest in completing the proposed branches was revived. In 1998, the new Queens Library at Flushing was opened, and 4 other branches were opened between 1999-2007. The Queens Library has been allocated more than $269 million in capital funds between fiscal years 2005-2013.


Queens Library is governed by a 19-member Board of Trustees, which are appointed by the Mayor of New York City and the Borough President of Queens. The Mayor, Speaker of the City Council, Borough President, the New York City Comptroller and the New York Public Advocate sit on the board as ex officio members.[3] The library is funded by the City, state and federal grants, and through private philanthropy. Dennis Walcott was appointed President and CEO in March 2016.


Further information: List of Queens Library branches
Central Library.

Queens Library has 62 locations, seven Adult Learning Centers, two Family Literacy Centers, and a Mobile Library.

Central Library

Central Library was the first major branch of an urban library to place all public services on one floor. The library cost $5,700,000 and contained 195,000 square feet (18,100 m2) of floor space. The library was renovated and expanded in 1989. Additional renovation and expansion was expected to be completed in 2013. A new Children's Library Discovery Center, adjacent to the main library, was designed by 1100 Architect and opened in 2011.[4]

Central Library includes resources that support education and research through the college level. A local history collection (The Archives at Queens Library) houses thousands of photographs, books and ephemera having to do with the history of Queens and the four counties of Long Island. Other special collections include job search/readiness information and training and consumer health information.

International Resource Center

Queens Library at Flushing is home to the International Resource Center (IRC). It contains books, magazines, CDs and DVDs that represent cultures from all over the world. Queens LIbrary at Flushing has collections in many languages, including Bengali, Chinese, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.

Black Heritage Reference Center

The Langston Hughes Library is home to the Black Heritage Reference Center, which contains materials "written by, about, for, with and related to Black Culture." It is the largest collection of materials dedicated solely to Black culture in New York State.

Archives at Queens Library

The Archives at Queens Library, formerly known as the Long Island Division, is a special collection in the Central Library building that focuses on the history of Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. The Archives was first founded in 1912. It consists of books, publications, current and historical newspapers, family manuscripts and genealogical material, historical maps and atlases including Belcher Hyde and Sanborn Company maps, late 19th- and early 20th-century photographs, as well as other archival material.[5]

The Queens Memory Project, a digital archive which aims to record and preserve contemporary history across the borough of Queens, is a collaborative effort between Queens College and Queens Library that includes digitized materials from the Archives.

Programs and services

Queens Library has long had a variety of services to aid children and teens.


18 Queens Library branches participate in the STACKS program, a core-curriculum based after school enrichment program. The program aims to provide homework materials, homework tutors, and monitors. Every Queens Library branch also provides an assortment of enriching activities and clubs for children and teens daily.

Services for new immigrants

Queens Library has long been a leader in using library services to help new Americans acculturate. Popular reading and multimedia collections are available in all major immigrant languages in Queens. Coping skills programs and cultural arts programs are conducted in the immigrant languages to attract newcomers. Thousands of people attend free formal classes to learn English and attend informal conversation groups to improve their fluency. Family literacy programs take an inter-generational approach to learning English and include practical information about living in NYC. Programs in civics education, Pathways to Citizenship, programs to help foreign-born professionals gain U.S. certifications, and many other educational, informational and cultural programs make Queens Library a model for libraries worldwide.

Services to job seekers

Queens Library offers intensive assistance for those who wish to find employment and/or upgrade their job skills. Free services include in-person and online job skills assessments, workshops on dozens of topics that improve computer literacy skills, online learning that leads to professional job skills certifications, resume review, interview preparation, job search assistance. Through a partnership with Workforce 1, job placement assistance is available at Queens library at Flushing, and near to the Central Library in Jamaica.

Consumer health

A healthier community benefits everyone. Queens Library offers consumer health information at all library locations. Through Queens Library HealthLink and Queens Library ConnectCare, library users will receive assistance in finding free or low cost health screenings and/or appointments with primary healthcare providers, regardless of insurance.

See also


  1. http://www.queenslibrary.org/sites/default/files/about-us/Facts%20Sheet.pdf
  2. New American Program Collections accessed on December 10, 2008
  3. , Queens Library. Accessed August 29, 2014.
  4. Kimmelman, Michael (October 10, 2011). "New York's Public Architecture Gets a Face-Lift". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  5. Kearl, Mary (2013-07-03). "The Archives @". Queens Library. Retrieved 2013-11-05.

Queens Library Fact Sheet updated Mar. 2016

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