Jan. 9, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Court Square Library will officially shut its doors on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m., Queens Public Library announced today.
The announcement comes a day after a rally was held in front of the 25-01 Jackson Ave. branch in which Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said the QPL was negligent in its search for a new location.
“The library knew this deadline was coming,” Van Bramer said. “I believe they dragged their feet and now we’re in a crisis where this community is faced with the loss of a public library.”
The library must vacate the Citigroup Building it has occupied for 30 years ahead of its lease termination on March 31, as the building owner looks to replace it with a market-rate paying tenant.
The library has occupied a 3,200-square-foot ground floor space in the Citigroup Building, also known as One Court Square, since 1989. It will vacate the building in advance of March 31 so that library employees can pack and restore the space as needed.
QPL paid an annual rent of $1 per year and had been subleasing the space from Citigroup, which is moving out of the building as well.
The current landlord of One Court Square, Savanna, was expecting to rent about one million square feet of the 1.4 million-square-foot building to Amazon, but was dealt a blow when the e-commerce giant pulled out in February last year.
Despite Amazon’s change in plans, Citigroup is moving ahead with its plan to relocate its staff when its lease is up this year — which left the fate of its subleaser, the Court Square Library, up in the air.
Van Bramer called the failure of the QPL to find a new location before the current Citi Building’s branch location closes, “absolutely outrageous” and “unacceptable.”
The library was slated to close in August 2019 but the QPL was able to get a six-month lease extension.
While the QPL looks for a new home in the Court Square area, 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.
Van Bramer said a book mobile is not a substitute for a public library and called it “a stop-gap measure.”
“This could and should have been avoided,” Van Bramer said, adding that it was not a funding issue. “This is about the library failing to plan for this community.”
Following yesterday’s rally, QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott said the library’s efforts to find a new space were mischaracterized.
“My team and I have worked more than a year to find alternatives and have visited numerous locations,” Walcott said in a statement.
“We are fully committed to having a library in a growing neighborhood we have served for 30 years and continue to work to identify affordable and appropriate space,” Walcott said. “At the same time, the reality is that we have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the short- and long-term implications of securing a new home in an area with skyrocketing rents.”
Full library service is also available Monday through Saturday at nearby locations, including the Hunters Point Library at 47-40 Center Blvd., Long Island City Library at 37-44 21st St. and Sunnyside Library at 43-06 Greenpoint Ave.