The Queens Library serves the city's most diverse borough—138 languages spoken among a population of 2.2 million—with a full range of services and programs for adults and children at its main branch, Central—the reference library on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens—and at its 62 branches. Almost 16 million people visit the library every year. Queens Library has the highest circulation of any public library system in the United States. (23 million items in fiscal year 2009).
Collections include books, periodicals, compact discs and videos. All branches have a computerized catalogue of the library's holdings, as well as access to the Internet. Lectures, performances and special events are presented by neighborhood branches.
A major aspect of the library’s mission is the provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. One hundred classes are offered annually at 28 branches; the instructors are required to have a Master’s Degree in ESOL or equivalent experience. Five Adult Learning Centers throughout Queens augment ESOL instruction with computer-assisted lessons and other self-pace materials.
Other library programs range from concerts to crafts, theater to travelogues, literary readings and book signings to author talks and performance art—all of which is geared to adults from an astonishing range of cultures and backgrounds.
In one year the library offers roughly more than 22,000 events, including classes about the Library’s online catalog InfoLinQ in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French and English.
Public school teachers are invited to call ahead and arrange class visits to Central Library, Flushing Library, or other branch locations. The Queens Borough Public Library is a forum for all points of view and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights formulated by the American Library Association.
Programs for Seniors
The Queens Library offers outreach services to help people with disabilities and older adults use the library's collections and resources. Special Services presents programs on issues related to aging and physical disabilities and provides materials on these topics system-wide.
The Mail A Book service and live programs are available free to anyone who lives, works, goes to school or owns property anywhere in New York State. To register, call (718) 776-6800.
Mail A Book holds programs twice a week for homebound customers. They include a weekly Friday morning chat, when library customers socialize and share with others who share similar lifestyles and limitations. Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art conducted a three-session lecture series. Other times, the group plays bingo and trivia games and has book discussions. Customers can also phone in to hear concerts or drama programs being held at the library.
The Stay Well program introduces participants, ages 60 and older, to special exercises, relaxation techniques and the benefits of good nutrition. This program is held, on a regular basis, at the Central Library, Flushing and East Elmhurst branches.
For more information on any of these programs, contact Special Services at (718) 990-0746.
The library offers a range of programs for parents or caregivers with their children. Activities include movement, nursery rhymes, storytelling, magic and puppet shows, listening to music, homework assistance, English classes, GED/SAT prep and more. At least twice a year in 30 branches, a parent-child workshop is held for children ages 18 months to 3 years. During the session, children participate in supervised play while their parents listen to experts discuss various aspects of child-rearing. The Summer Reading Club encourages pleasure reading during the long vacation (www.summerreading.org).
In January 2009 Queens Library began construction on the $38 million Children's Library Discovery Center adjacent to the Central Library in Jamaica. The two-story, state-of-the-art facility will replace the existing Children's Room, utilizing interactive exhibits and conventional resources to promote learning and reading.
Class visits to the library include an age-related program such as reading aloud, book talks, storytelling and central library visits and gallery tours. Registration for library cards is included as part of the program. School visits led by librarians are offered in the classroom, at assemblies, PTA groups, teacher training sessions and career fairs.