STAPLETON — The New York Public Library reopened its Stapleton branch on Tuesday after renovations that kept it closed for more than three years.
The library, which was originally built in 1907 by Andrew Carnegie, now includes an extension housing a children’s room and a 7,000-square-foot addition.
“It's amazing for the community because it's been closed for so many years,” said Robert Gibbs, branch manager. “The kids are super excited, they've been without a library for that long.”
The branch, at 132 Canal St., Staten Island, more then doubled in size and added new reading rooms, lounges, 40 new computers, 10 laptops, WiFi and a community room.
Councilwoman Debi Rose, who fought for more than a decade to get the library restored, said she was nearly speechless when she saw the work.
“Today's opening is a great present for the community,” she said. “It gives this community access to resources that were unparalleled to any institution in this area.”
Rose said many of the residents in the neighborhood don’t have access to computers, and another library branch in St. George was too far away.
Khalid Lee, 10, a fifth-grader at P.S. 14 Cornelius Vanderbilt School in Stapleton, hasn’t been able to visit any library while the Stapleton site was closed because the other branch was too far away.
“It has a lot of books and the Internet,” Lee said about the new space. “It looks good.”
The library, renovated with $15.2 million from the city’s Department of Design and Construction, has nearly 35,000 items in the collection, which includes children’s books and graphic novels.
The new branch also has a more open feel than the previous one, and has two lions made of Lego blocks modeled after the statues in front of the famous public library headquarters on Manhattan's 42nd Street.
“It’s open. It’s bright. It’s inviting,” Rose said. “You can't help but want to spend time here.”
Gibbs said he was excited to finally open the branch back to the public, and said children have been climbing the outside walls to try and peek inside the windows before it reopened.
“That tells you how huge the demand was,” he said.