Helen M. Marshall Children’s Library Discovery Center Opens
On September 15 Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmembers Leroy Comrie, Jimmy Van Bramer and other leaders of government and the community officially opened the Helen M. Marshall Children’s Library Discovery Center in Jamaica, Queens today. The new facility is a world-class children’s library—plus a hands-on learning environment that incorporates touch-friendly exhibits, sound and video installations along with a science-oriented programming component. The program was introduced by Discover-E the Robot.
The new library is 14,000 sq. ft. and is adjacent to the Central Library. It is the only public library in the U.S. to incorporate interactive museum exhibits into a traditional reading-rich library environment and the only free children’s educational destination in NYC with a special emphasis on science, technology, math and engineering.
Construction costs were $30.3 million; total funding was $38.3 million. It was funded by Marshall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, the Queens City Council Delegation and federally-funded grants. It was built by the New York City Department of Design and Construction, through Mayor Bloomberg’s Excellence in Design Program. The architects were 1100 Architect and Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership. Tabletop exhibits were designed by the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Marshall said, “This unique library is one for the modern age. Clearly, it is not only a library, but a museum and school that will awaken interests and open new vistas and opportunities for children in search of knowledge and wonder. It will be a borough-wide resource for generations to come. I am delighted that the dream of opening this facility is now a reality and look forward to working with the Queens Library as we focus on helping all children achieve their potential. I know more than $16 million in capital funds allocated by the borough president’s office for this facility is a sound investment in the future that will reap a rich harvest. I thank all of our partners in government, especially at the city and federal levels, and the private sector for making today possible.”
“I want to foremost applaud Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante and his staff for all their hard work in realizing this vision,” NYC Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie said. “The Children’s Library Discovery Center will be an extraordinary tool for educators and parents to introduce our children to the joys of reading and scientific exploration. In these learning labs, our borough’s next great scientist or astronaut will take their first steps. Some have questioned the need for libraries in the digital age. Today we can say without a doubt that libraries will continue to play a great role in the future of our civilization. The Discovery Center will educate and entertain generations of Queens residents.”
“The opening of the new Children’s Library Discovery Center at the Central Queens Library provides an opportunity for kids to have access to state of the art interactive exhibits and learning labs with skilled professionals to guide them. Encouraging literacy especially at an early age is an issue I have fought for in the City Council and will continue to do so. When I was a child I loved to visit my local library and read. With the new Children’s Library Discovery Center, kids will have many more options that enhance their ability to research, explore, and problem solve,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said.
“The Queens Children’s Library Discovery Center is a foundation upon which the future use of the library’s advanced services will be better utilized by the people of Queens. This library will provide a foundation upon which more effective citizens will be available to the city. I, along with the Board of Trustees of the Queens Library and the Board of Trustees of the Queens Foundation, thank Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marshall, Councilmember Comrie, the Queens City Council Delegation and private donors for making it possible,” President Joseph R. Ficalora said.
The Children’s Library Discovery Center is full of lights, color, sounds and activity. One example: a representational map of Queens on the floor features iconic landmarks. When a child stands on one, they will hear appropriate sound effects, like piano music coming from the Steinway factory or jet engines at the airports. Children instantly love it, and that makes it the basis of a lifelong love of learning. Integral are the programs. They encourage children to touch and experiment with topics such as weather, magnetism, nano-technology, the natural world and more. The Children’s Library Discovery Center is open seven days a week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Tuesdays 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Sundays noon – 5 p.m.
1100 Architect Principal-in-Charge Juergen Riehm said, “Even during the proposal phase of the Children’s Library Discovery Center I was fascinated by the corner site and its potential to create an architectural marker for the Queens Central Library. This first impression guided us in the design of a glowing beacon for the community of Queens and the creation of a learning space for children that motivates curiosity and discovery of our environment.”
Lee Skolnick of Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership said, “We created these spaces and iconography to inspire curiosity and a love of learning, and to enrich childrens’ minds every visit.”
“This model adds object-based, experiential science learning to the text-based information conventionally found in children’s libraries,” San Francisco Exploratorium’s Claire Pillsbury said.