Sep. 11, 2023 By Bill Parry
Queens Public Library will open its newly renovated teen centers at the Cambria Heights, Central and Flushing libraries this week and open a brand new teen center at its Long Island City branch — modeled after the QPL’s Far Rockaway Teen Library — which was refurbished in 2022, with funding from Google.
The four state-of-the-art, tech-focused spaces dedicated exclusively for teens and supporting their unique needs were funded through a $20 million investment by Mayor Eric Adams and private foundations for teen center upgrades at public libraries across the city. The funding was allocated well ahead of the mayor’s proposed budget cuts to all city agencies in response to the “financial tsunami” caused by the city’s growing migrant crisis.
The teen center funding is part of his administration’s citywide strategy to help young people recover from the educational and emotional setbacks they experienced during an extended period of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last October, the mayor announced the public private partnership with Google, the Joly Family Foundation and Best Buy to award the $20 million — including $15 million from the city — toward opening teen spaces at libraries across the five boroughs. Queens Public Library, New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library developed new or updated existing teen centers in underserved communities, providing programming and enhanced learning opportunities to support skills and career development, allowing young people to connect with friends and neighbors and helping them find paths to success.
“Publicly accessible youth services to inspire, educate, and upskill are critical to the development of not only our teenagers but New York City as a whole,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “I am thrilled to see this $20 million public-private partnership and City investment come to fruition with more teen spaces and programming across the vibrant communities in the World’s Borough thanks to the Queens Public Library.”
Teens are invited to attend open houses from 4 to 6 p.m.at Central Library at 89-11 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica on Sept.12, at Cambria Heights Library at 218-13 Linden Blvd. on Sept. 13, at the Long Island City branch at 37-44 21st St. on Sept. 14, and at Flushing Library at 41-17 Main St. on Sept. 15. Each QPL site will feature a new tech lab, providing teens with access to a variety of equipment and software such as iPads, laptops, 3-D printers, Adobe Creative Cloud and gaming systems. The labs will offer instruction on coding languages, the ins and outs of 3-D printing, podcasting, audio and visual recording, editing, beat-making and robotics.
Tech mentors will be available to provide one-on-one guidance to teens, connecting their passions, interests and skills to career opportunities, preparing them for the 21st century job market. And dedicated staff will guide teens as they navigate the everyday challenges of adolescence and offer programs around peer-to-peer learning, mental health, college access, career exploration, community engagement and social justice.
“Teens need dedicated spaces where they can connect with peers, lean on caring adults, learn new skills, experience state-of-the-art technology, and develop their interests,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We are so pleased to offer our young people new, welcoming, safe places they can call their own, and we are grateful to Mayor Adams, his administration and Google.org for funding our teen centers and for being tremendous supporters of public libraries.”
The mayoral funding will also enable Queens Public Library to expand critical initiatives such as the Youth Justice Court, College Access, Young Adult Literary Services and Civic Engagement.
The Central Library Teen Center and Flushing Library Teen Centers will be open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The Far Rockaway Teen Library will be open Monday through Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Cambria Heights Teen Center will be open Monday through Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the Long Island City Teen Center will be open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.