Having been closed for more than two years, the Queens Public Library Flushing Branch officially reopened its doors to the general public on April 25.
The library, which averages approximately 6,000 visitors per day, is one of the largest and busiest public libraries in the entire country.
Local elected officials including City Councilwoman Sandra Ung, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and Queens Public Library President/CEO Dennis Walcott were in attendance on Monday morning, as the facility officially reopened its doors for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a great day for the Flushing community,” Ung said. “This library is so much more than a place to check out books, it hosts community events for families, provides a safe place for teens to gather after school, and keeps our seniors connected. For the many local residents who have limited English proficiency, the Flushing Library is often where they learn what is going on in their community.”
Ung said that in fact, all of the shelves on the third floor of the library contain materials in languages other than English.
“So this branch doesn’t just serve Flushing residents, it’s a resource for the diverse immigrant communities across the borough,” Ung said. “I’m so pleased that it is finally open to the public again.”
The Flushing Library is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The Adult Learning Center also reopened on Monday with classes for the public. The Center will be open Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The library originally closed at the start of the pandemic along with all other QPL branches. The branch temporarily offered to-go service from November 2020 until March 2021, when the city began using the library as a free COVID-19 vaccination site. It quickly became one of the city’s most visited locations.
However, the city was forced to close it in mid-June when the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system failed. The system failure came at approximately the same time as a planned closure of the branch to construct a second elevator. Work on that project started in December.
The second elevator is scheduled for completion in April of 2023, at which point the current elevator will be closed and refurbished. Both elevators should be operational by December of 2023.
In order to reopen the library to the public, QPL officials agreed to complete the bulk of the work on the elevators at night, so the building can be open during the day. The current HVAC system will still heat the building, while a temporary chiller sitting on a trailer along Kissena Avenue will cool the library. A new permanent HVAC system will be installed within the next two years.
The Flushing branch is the busiest library in the nation. Back in 2019, the facility drew 1.7 million visitors, circulated 1 million items, and brought in 184,000 program attendees, who participated in English classes, GED prep courses, job readiness workshops, and a variety of other programs.
Ung previously toured the library last month with Congresswoman Grace Meng, Richards, and Walcott, who assured her the library would be open in April.
“I want to thank QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott and his team for keeping their promise and reopening the library before the end of the month,” Ung added. “I’m sure in no time this will again be the busiest library in the country.”