Feb. 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Queens Public Library plans to sign a lease agreement for a new Court Square branch next month and have a new location open by the end of the year, a library spokesperson said.
The branch ended service at its home of more than three decades, 25-01 Jackson Ave., last Saturday.
The branch occupied the 3,200-square-foot ground floor space of the Citigroup Building since 1989 and was forced to vacate the space as the building’s owner since 2014, Savanna, looks for a market-rate tenant.
Queens Public Library (QPL) paid an annual rent of $1 per year since the 50-story building opened and had been subleasing the space from Citigroup, which is moving out of the building as well.
The announcement comes after the City Council held a hearing on the Court Square branch closure, in which QPL President And CEO Dennis Walcott said there were three potential locations Queens Library is eyeing.
He said he couldn’t give the public a definitive timeline for the opening of a new branch location, but hoped to have a deal in place next month.
“It is my hope to have a Court Square library in place by the end of this calendar year,” Walcott said, however.
At the hearing, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee and a former employee of QPL, fiercely criticized Walcott and QPL for not doing enough to prevent a loss of library service to the community he represents.
“The fundamental obligation of this public library system to keep this public library open is paramount — and it wasn’t here,” Van Bramer said. “A lack of willingness to do what it took, is what made [the closure] happen.”
Walcott maintained that QPL did its due diligence to find a new location for the branch.
While QPL works to open a new location, mobile library service will be provided on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Monday, Feb. 24, in front of the Court House at Jackson Avenue and Court Square West.
Residents, however, have been calling for the mobile hours to be extended. They say one day a week for the whole Court Square community isn’t enough.
Assembly Member Catherine Nolan penned a letter to Walcott on Tuesday reiterating their request.
“I agree with community members that access during an eight-hour window, one day per week, is not a community-minded policy; it is grossly inadequate, especially as bookmobile service will be ongoing for an undetermined length of time,” Nolan wrote.
A spokesperson for QPL said they have no plans to increase the mobile library service at this point.
“Queens Public Library is fully committed to having a library in a growing neighborhood we have served for 30 years, and we continue to work to identify affordable and appropriate space,” she said.