I want to update you and everyone in Queens about how Queens Library has responded to community needs following the recent devastating storm, and what our plans are to serve the affected communities in the immediate future.
More than 50 libraries opened for public service right after the storm. They provided important information, places to recharge personal cell phones and laptops, as well as a community space for people to just come in and share their experiences. With children out of school and many homes without power, a warm place with books and friendly faces was welcome. A handful of libraries sustained only minor damage but were without power. They were brought up as quickly as possible, most within a week.
Four libraries in the southern part of Queens are badly damaged. They will need extensive repairs that are likely to take several months. But the community still needs us. The Book Bus was parked in front of the closed library at the foot of the Cross Bay Boulevard Bridge as soon as we were permitted to do so. Library staff were swamped with requests for information on everything from how to apply for FEMA grants, to how to get a prescription filled. The Book Bus will be there several days a week until the library reopens. In Far Rockaway, the library at Central Avenue and Mott Avenue opened to distribute emergency supplies. They were without power, then were glad to have an emergency generator to provide some computer and online access for people who need it.
The libraries at Seaside, Arverne, Peninsula and Broad Channel need extensive repair. They were flooded with several feet of water. Perhaps more damaging, the wind got in through broken glass and blew the books and library materials into the water and sand, and they are a total loss. The library is exploring several options for providing temporary service while we rebuild. Libraries in Far Rockaway and Howard Beach will have expanded hours after re-opening so users in neighboring communities will have easier access to everything their community library provides.
We will be starting repairs as quickly as possible. Staff will be relocated to temporary library spaces. But more than 100,000 library books, magazines and movies will have to be replaced. You can help. Please go to www.queenslibraryfoundation.org or phone (718) 480-4273 to find out how you can make a real impact.