2007-04-18 / Front Page

Queens Library Celebrates 100th

Queens' biggest anniversary cake in honor of Queens Library's 100th anniversary of incorporation. Queens' biggest anniversary cake in honor of Queens Library's 100th anniversary of incorporation. Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens Borough Public Library Director Thomas W. Galante, and government and community wellwishers joined to cut Queens' biggest anniversary cake in honor of Queens Library's 100th anniversary of incorporation. The event was held at Antun's in Queens Village.

"Queens Library is the busiest library system in the U.S. We needed a cake this big to mark the occasion," Galante said. He added: "We're proud to be one of very few organizations that can look back on more than a century of service and honestly say, 'People in Queens depend on us more now than they did a century ago.' A hundred years from now, people in Queens will still rely on their library for education, information and recreation. We enrich lives. Today is National Library Workers' Day. The anniversary couldn't come at a more apt time. Our staff is the reason why Queens Library will continue to be relevant long into the future."

Queens Library was chartered from several small, independent libraries in 1896, prior to the Act of Consolidation in 1898, which made the five boroughs into New York City. Queens Library was incorporated on April 17, 1907. Andrew Carnegie gave the nascent public library a big boost by financing six stately buildings on the condition that the city would pay ongoing operating expenses. Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library were incorporated separately. They remain independent of each other to this day.

Photo Dan Miller/DMD Images Queens Library Director Thomas Galante (c.) and members of the Library staff and Board of Trustees, including Trustee George Stamatiades (far l.) celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Library's incorporation by cutting a huge cake, a part of which will be delivered to each of the Library's 63 branches. Photo Dan Miller/DMD Images Queens Library Director Thomas Galante (c.) and members of the Library staff and Board of Trustees, including Trustee George Stamatiades (far l.) celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Library's incorporation by cutting a huge cake, a part of which will be delivered to each of the Library's 63 branches. The anniversary cake measured 16 by 20 feet. It was baked by Junior's and included 1,200 pounds of cake batter, 500 pounds of fudge filling and 500 pounds of frosting for a total calorie count that defied description. Most of it was donated by City Harvest.

A follow-up event will be held on April 25, when a time capsule will be buried at the Queens Library at Queens Village. It contains items donated by children from all over Queens to illustrate "The Way We Were in 2007". It will be opened at the library's bicentennial.

Whitestone Branch 1908: In 1908, the Whitestone Branch moved into this building. It was the successor to the library of the Social League of Whitestone. It had fewer than 900 volumes. Today, the Whitestone Community Library circulates more than 200,000 items a year. Whitestone Branch 1908: In 1908, the Whitestone Branch moved into this building. It was the successor to the library of the Social League of Whitestone. It had fewer than 900 volumes. Today, the Whitestone Community Library circulates more than 200,000 items a year. Queens Library circulated 20.2 million items in Fiscal Year 2006. It is one of the highest circulating libraries in the U.S. The core mission of providing for the information, educational and recreational needs of people in Queens has remained the same through the decades. The way the library delivers information and education, has changed drastically as information technology has evolved. Online information and downloadable media are common now, although they were beyond imagination only 20 years ago. Encouraging children to do well in school and helping adults self-educate and optimize economic potential remain important goals.

Middle Village Station 1911: Children line up to enter the Middle Village Station, which was established in a candy store in 1911. Middle Village Station 1911: Children line up to enter the Middle Village Station, which was established in a candy store in 1911. The first library in Queens was organized in 1858 in Flushing on a subscription basis. library in 1884. In the 1890s, the Steinway, Hollis, Queens Village, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Long Island City and Astoria neighborhoods started library service. These seven libraries formed the nucleus of the present Queens Library. Three (Long Island City, Steinway, and Astoria) were members of the Long Island City Public Library, chartered in 1896. The Queens Borough Public Library was incorporated in 1907.

The city contributed support to most of the seven libraries. Preferring to deal with one group rather than seven, the city held several conferences to consider consolidating the administration of these independent units. In January 1901, all the libraries except Flushing joined to form the Queens Library. The charter granted to the new system by the Regents of the State of New York was worded to extend the service area of the old Long Island City Public Library to the entire borough. Operating funds were provided by the city of New York.

Shortly after the formation of the system, Flushing joined, as did a new library founded in College Point. Funds totaling $240,000 donated by Andrew Carnegie were used for the construction of seven new libraries in the most heavily populated areas of the borough. Five of these buildings (Astoria, Elmhurst, Poppenhusen, Richmond Hill, a n d Woodhaven) are still in use.

In 1906, a traveling library office was set up to extend library service to under-served, less densely populated areas. Its primary function at first was the placement of collections of 100 to 600 volumes in various Queens locations. These locations were chosen on the basis of the ability of the owner of the facility to provide space, to administer the collection and to ensure use by the public. By 1910, use of these collections had grown to such an extent that a Traveling Libraries Department was established. In addition to collections, stations were established in stores and offices and trained librarians were on hand to provide service to the public. In 1914, stations were established in schools, and by 1915, prison service was also offered through a station.

The Department of Work with Children was created to supervise and direct all aspects of children's work in the agencies. Training classes, story hours and radio programs were developed. In 1919, the Department of Branches and Apprentices was created, combining responsibility for work with children, management of staff and supervision of branches. In addition, the department head was responsible for operating the library's training school. By 1923, this new department ceased to function and the Department of Work with Children was reinstated. In 1926 the Traveling Library Department became the Extension Department and its service units were re-classified as sub-branches, school stations, community stations and collections.

In order to provide library service to the many areas still without it, bookmobile service was added in 1930. Hospital service began in 1933 and was further extended in 1937 when shut-in service was inaugurated. Meanwhile, service to schools had grown so that it became necessary in 1930 to create a Department of School Libraries. By 1934, collections were supplied to 16 schools, and trained librarians were on duty at all times. This service continued until 1944 when staff shortages and lack of funds forced its elimination.

The Queens Library has shown a longstanding concern for the welfare of its employees. On June 25, 1937, with the city of New York, it elected to have its staff covered by the New York State Employees' Retirement System. On July 9, 1945, employees were covered by the New York City Career and Salary Plan. The Library has been unionized since April 16, 1969. Library staff may choose to be represented by District Council 37, Local 1321, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, A.F.L.-C.I.O.

The Extension Department and the Department of Branch Administration merged in 1956 to form the Extension Services Department, with responsibility for the development of all public services outside of the Central Library building. All sub-branches were raised to full branch status. Professional staffs were assigned, hours of service expanded, book collections enlarged and cataloged, and other steps taken to place all branches on an equal-service footing. A review of the new department's activities led to the elimination of collections in schools and gradual discontinuance of the use of bookmobiles for school service. The name was changed to Community Library Services in 2005 to better reflect the full-service capability of each library.

Queens Library is an independent, not-for-profit corporation and is not affiliated with any other library. The Queens Library serves a population of 2.2 million in the most ethnically diverse county in the U.S. with record 20.2 million items in circulation for FY 2006. The Library has one of the highest circulations of any public library system in the world. For more information about programs, services, locations, events and news, visit www.queenslibrary.org or call 718-990-0700.

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