2013-01-23 / Features

Langston Hughes Community Library A Literary Landmark

Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center will be nationally recognized on Saturday, February 9 as a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries. It is the first public institution named for the famed poet/author of the Harlem Renaissance. A plaque will be placed in the library at 100- 01 Northern Blvd., in East Elmhurst during the annual Langston Hughes Celebration. The community is invited, admission is free.

In her letter to Queens Library CEO Thomas W. Galante, United for Libraries Executive Director Sally G. Reed said, “I am most pleased that you’ve applied for this designation for a man who had such significant impact on African-American literature and American literature generally.”

Hughes wrote more than 860 poems in his lifetime, and was heralded as an author of short stories, plays, essays, anthologies and as a journalist from the 1920s until his death in 1967.

Picture of James Mercer Langston Hughes taken in 1936. Picture of James Mercer Langston Hughes taken in 1936. Although Hughes lived in Harlem, the library was named in his honor in 1969 when it opened for public service. Langston Hughes Community Library is home of the Black Heritage Reference Center of Queens County, housing New York state’s largest public circulating collection of print and non-print material on the Black experience. This collection is now estimated at over 45,000 titles, including approximately 1,000 volumes of theses and dissertations on Black literature.

The plaque presentation will be part of the 28th annual Langston Hughes Celebration. It will be made by Rocco Staino, United for Libraries board member emeritus and director of the Empire State Center for the Book.

There will be an 11 a.m. screening of the biographical film, Hughes Dream Harlem by Darralyn Hudson; a plaque presentation by Rocco Staino and a lecture by author Jamal Joseph with a special musical rendition of Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by the IMPACT Performing Ensemble, beginning at noon; at 1 p.m., “The Jacob Lawrence Migration Series” by MoMA staff member Marcia Garcia; a lecture on Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance by historian Rashidah Ismaili Abu Bakr at 3:30 p.m.; Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall will present six scholarships for African American Heritage Month at 4 p.m.; and at 4:30 p.m. there will be a musical performance, “Music from the Mind of the Trumpet” by Eddie Allen and Friends.

The library was founded by residents of the Corona-East Elmhurst community. They formed the Library Action Committee of Corona-East Elmhurst, Inc. and operated the library’s daily operations from 1969 through 1987 as a “federally funded special project of Queens Library”. In 1987, Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center gained full status and the responsibility of the library shifted to Queens Library. The Library Action Committee still has responsibility for funding and operating the after-school Homework Assistance Program and the Cultural Arts Program.

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