Nearly every Queens Public Library branch reopened for full service last week, but the organization announced July 16 that the Flushing branch, the busiest library in the country, will remain closed indefinitely.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is to blame, the QPL said in a Friday press release.
“We know very well that the library is the center of community life in Flushing and that it is an invaluable resource. So many people have been looking forward to the library’s reopening and unfortunately it is unclear when this will be possible,” said QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott.
The 23-year-old HVAC system broke down in May. Replacing it will take “a considerable amount of time,” Walcott said. The design, engineering and installation work will take “many months,” and in the meantime the QPL is exploring temporary cooling and heating options.
The Flushing Library drew 1.7 million visitors in 2019, according to the QPL, making it the busiest in the country. It is particularly popular for immigrants, who utilize the branch’s English classes, GED prep courses, technology workshops, job readiness classes and other programs offered there each year. It also houses an adult learning center and an international resource center.
The branch has been closed for public use since March 2020, though it did offer to-go service from July to November of last year. It was converted into a Covid-19 vaccination site in March, and will continue to serve as one through the end of the summer, though the effort has been relocated to buses parked outside of the building. The city has begun moving the vaccination operations to an adjacent synagogue.
The Flushing Library would probably have closed for some time anyway, the QPL said: The city had been planning to install a new public elevator in the building in the fall, which would necessitate a closure of the branch.
Library cardholders can visit the Mitchell-Linden, McGoldrick and East Flushing branches during construction, which are one, 1.3 and 2.5 miles from the Flushing Library, respectively. Those three libraries are open for full service.