It’s small, but it’s important.
The Broad Channel branch of the Queens Library is a kiosk compared to other, larger locations in the system, but for the people of the small, close-knit community in the middle of Jamaica Bay, it’s a piece of home.
The library branch at 16-26 Cross Bay Blvd. suffered a devastating blow from Hurricane Sandy last October. It took in nearly two feet of water and suffered $940,000 in damage in the storm, including the loss of more than 16,000 books and other library items. The building required extensive interior repairs.
More than three months later, the branch reopened to the public with a ribbon cutting on March 6 attended by elected officials, city commissioners and students from nearby PS/MS 47, Broad Channel’s public school.
“Queens Library at Broad Channel is a pivotal resource for all ages, an information hub and a community hub,” said Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante. “We are so grateful to Commissioner David Burney and the NYC Department of Design and Construction for all their hard work in getting the library reopened in record time. We look forward to seeing every library in Queens re-built to full capacity and serving library customers with books, job-skills training, afterschool enrichment and everything they depend on their libraries to provide.”
The library branch is also home to the Broad Channel Historical Society, though Dan Mundy Sr., a member of the historical group, said much of its collection, such as pictures and artifacts, is in the historical room at St. Virgilius Church on Noel Road, which was also hit hard by Sandy.
“Unfortunately, the storm did damage some of our collection,” Mundy said. “But we are in the process of drying out or copying items and the historical society is alive and well.”
Joanne King, spokeswoman for the Queens Library, said the Broad Channel branch’s book drop, installed not long before Sandy, will also be replaced.
Broad Channel was one of four libraries badly damaged in the storm. The other three — Arverne, Seaside and Peninsula, all in the Rockaways — are still closed or in temporary locations while renovations are being done.
The Howard Beach branch on 156th Avenue also suffered minor flood damage, but reopened a week and a half after the storm when power was restored to the community.
Overall Queens Library locations suffered $7.6 million in damage, including $2.2 million in destroyed books and other library materials.
Scholastic has donated 40,000 books to help Queens Library branches refill children’s bookshelves after the storm.