July 3, 2014 By Michael Florio
Two of Astoria’s libraries will be undergoing a revamp following the 2015 city budget.
The Steinway Branch, located at 21-45 31 Street, will be receiving a $655,000 injection.
The funds were allocated by Councilman Costa Constantinides as part of the city budget and will be used to install a new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant elevator, new furniture, lighting and upgrades to the children’s area. The funds will also be used to install security cameras.
The revamp will not be completed for at least a year. Constantinides said the city still has to put together design plans and then put the construction work out for bid.
The library would most likely have to be close for a short period during construction. However, there would be a book bus or another alternative to make sure the community still has access to library resources.
Constantinides also said he has allocated $200,000 for a self check-in book vestibule at the Astoria Branch, which is located at 14-01 Astoria Boulevard.
Furthermore, an additional $6,000 has also been allocated to the Astoria Branch in order for residents of Astoria Houses to borrow iPads and get access to the Web. Constantinides said that only 41 percent of residents in the Astoria Houses have regular internet access.
While money has been pumped into the Astoria branch, there will not be six day service. Nevertheless, Constantinides said these additional services are a huge step forward for the community.
“I’m proud of the money that was allocated to extend library service and get additional service into our libraries,” he said.
A lot of people think putting money into a library is a crowd pleasing waste of funds, but more than ever before libraries are important. When people can’t afford to keep their homes cool, don’t have their own internet access, are looking for a job or trying to get some work done but don’t have the resources or space they need, and can’t afford to hang out at Starbucks, a library is more than a place to read and think. It can be the difference between success and failure for a lot of people, and in turn for local economies.
People learn English, and essential job skills at the libraries.