40 THE QUEENS COURIER • BUZZ • MARCH 25, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens Public Library celebrates 125th anniversary
BY BILL PARRY
Queens Public Library launched its
125th anniversary celebrations with the
release of “Love Letter to Queens,” a
curated list of all QPL materials set in or
around the borough, including fi ction
and non-fi ction books, e-books, music,
movies and e-resources.
Th e list, which will continue to expand
throughout the year, will also include
creators from Queens.
Th e library will also roll out “QPL Stories
Project,” led by Queens Memory, its community
archiving program, in partnership
with technology non-profi t Urban
Archive. Th ey have developed an interactive
map marked with every QPL branch,
and are asking for customers to share photographs
and stores that will be pinned to
specifi c locations, creating a community
gallery for each branch and documenting
the role it has played in their lives.
Customers may also share their QPL
memories by calling 855-QNS-LOVE to
record their message.
Customers can also join the 125th anniversary
celebration by taking the “QPL
Quiz,” a fun, interactive and informative
six-question personality test. Th eir
answers will reveal their QPL personality
avatar and point them to the QPL
resources that match their interests.
Additionally, QPL’s website will feature
fi reworks animation, and the library’s
social media channels will be full of historic
pictures and information.
“As we mark the 125th anniversary of
Queens Public Library, we honor the people
we serve in the most diverse place in the
country, and uphold our commitment to
inclusion, equity, and free access to information
and opportunity for all,” Queens
Public Library President and CEO Dennis
M. Walcott said. “We celebrate the library’s
rich past and promising future in building
resilience and unity in our communities,
and as a force for truth and democracy.”
Queens Public Library was founded in
1896, with the goal of providing free access
to knowledge, information, and lifelong
learning opportunities to all residents. Its
roots took hold in the fall of 1895 in Long
Island City, an independent municipality
at the time, when local resident William
Nelson acquire a large number of books,
consisting of the inventory of three circulating
subscription libraries, and pledged
to give them to and “person or association”
that would open a free public library.
Th e idea galvanized two other Long
Island City residents, Dr. Wallace G. Frey
and George E. Clay, who obtained a charter
from the New York State Board of
Regents for the Long Island City Public
Library on March 19, 1896. Th e Mayor
of Long Island City, Horatio Sanford, had
already allocated $3,000 from municipal
funds for this civic enterprise. Th e Library
opened its fi rst location, the Nelson
Branch, in Hunters Point on Aug. 3, 1896.
Th e Steinway Free Circulating Library
became the second branch aft er William
Steinway’s death in 1896, and its third
branch, Astoria, opened in a rented storefront
on Fulton Avenue in February 1898.
On Dec. 21, 1899, the Long Island
City Public Library was renamed the
Queens Borough Library. Elsewhere in
Queens around that time, other eff orts
were underway to merge several private
libraries into a single public institution to
further their missions.
“As this amazing borough has grown and
changed over these many years, so have we,”
Walcott said. “Th rough constant innovation
and outreach, we have worked to provide
the resources and support people need
to realize the promise of their lives.”
Over the years, QPL and its librarians
have continued to respond to the changing
needs of the diverse communities they
serve, off ering free ESOL, citizenship, and
coping skills classes, and building a multilingual
collection of materials in more
than 30 languages.
Today, Queens Public Library is one of
the largest and busiest library systems in
the United States. It welcomes nearly 11
million visitors each year and consists of
66 locations, including branch libraries, a
Central Library, seven adult learning centers,
a technology lab, one universal prekindergarten,
and two teen centers.
QPL off ers free access to a collection
of more than 5 million books and other
materials in multiple languages, technology
and digital resources, and more than
87,500 educational, cultural, and civic
programs a year.
“We are grateful to the people of Queens
and beyond for making us part of their
lives and inspiring us each and every day,”
Under regular circumstances, these
programs and resources are available at
branches located throughout the borough,
usually whitening a mile of
where most of the borough’s 2.3 million
In addition to books and other materials,
QPL continues to expand its online
resources, including e-books, audiobooks,
e-magazines, music and movies, as well as
its research databases.
To serve and engage the public during
the COVID-19 pandemic, QPL quickly
pivoted to develop a robust slate of virtual
programming for children, teens, adults
and seniors, including computer and technology
workshops, small business and
entrepreneurship assistance, résumé writing
and job search help, story times in
multiple languages and even live DJ sets.
“All year long, we will be honoring
the people of Queens, with a variety of
events and activities,” Walcott said. “Th e
celebration is dedicated to them.”
All of QPL’s system-wide initiatives this
year will incorporate a 125th anniversary
component. For example, our expert
librarians curated a list of 125 books by
African-American authors during Black
History Month and a list of 125 books
by women writers for Women’s History
Month. Both lists represent diff erent
genres, from history to fi ction, and from
classics to the newest releases.
For more information, visit to
queenslibrary.org or QPL125.org,
a microsite dedicated to the 125th
A library truck makes a delivery to the Central Library building on
Parsons Boulevard in 1934.
The fi rst use of computers for checking out books at the Leff erts
Reference Center in 1978. Far Rockaway branch in 1910.
Photos courteys of QPL
A QBPL book bus at the Cedar Manor stop in South Jamaica in 1935.