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Steinway Library Reopens Following $4.9 Million Upgrade

Steinway Library’s main entrance on 31st Street features a new ADA accessible ramped entrance and a 24/7 exterior book returns machine (Courtesy of QPL)

Jan. 18, 2022 By Christian Murray

The Steinway Library in Astoria reopened today after undergoing a $4.9 million capital upgrade that includes the installation of an ADA elevator and improvements such as new ceilings, floorings and furniture throughout the 3-level building.

The library, located at 21-45 31st St., closed fully in August 2018 and significant upgrades have been made to the 12,500-square-foot structure over the past 3 ½ years.

The Steinway Library is one of three original branches that became part of the Long Island City Public Library system 125 years ago, which was later renamed the Queens Public Library. The current building was designed in the 1950s and opened in 1956. The structure—consisting of a cellar and two floors—sits on a 7,600-square-foot lot that also includes a landscaped rear garden.

“The historic Steinway Library has been a critical anchor of this community for the generations of families who have passed through its doors,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “With this multimillion-dollar renovation effort complete, all Astoria families, regardless of ability, finally have equitable access to the educational and enrichment opportunities this library provides.”

A new elevator shaft sits at the exterior of the library with translucent glass panels to provide diffused light and views into the courtyard (Courtesy of QPL)

The upgrades bring a new ADA-accessible elevator providing access to all three levels of the building from the cellar to the second floor. The library entrance now includes a ramp to make the branch ADA accessible. There is also a new 24/7 exterior book returns machine by the 31st street entrance.

Three new restrooms have been installed in the cellar, including an all gender, single occupant, ADA accessible restroom.

The second-floor children’s area, teen area and multi-purpose room as well as part of the cellar of the library were renovated with new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting. New staff offices were constructed in the cellar.

A new security system has been installed. Meanwhile, an audio-visual system was added to facilitate interactive learning and Wi-Fi capability was expanded throughout the building.

“These crucial upgrades to the building offer the community a library that is more inviting, technologically efficient and accessible to all,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott. “We know the public has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the branch, and we are truly excited to welcome and serve them once again.”

The renovated children’s and teen areas feature new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting (Courtesy of QPL)

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Friend of Astoria

For such a small space, the amount of dollars spent could have also funded the neighborhood maintenance for at least 10 years. The library was in need of a renovation. However I do not believe with a rational mind that $4+million was warranted. The number is greatly inflated by the poorly negotiated contracts.


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