LONG ISLAND CITY — The Court Square library was packed with toddlers and babies Friday afternoon as the branch celebrated the opening of a long-awaited expansion, including a new room just for kids.
Parents and Queens Library officials say the new 1,700-square-foot space is desperately needed at the branch, which was originally intended to serve only a small population of office workers when it opened more than two decades ago.
Located on the first floor of the Citigroup Building at 25-01 Jackson Ave., the branch was opened in a space donated by Citi so it could initially be used by workers in the office tower.
"There weren't very many people that were living here at the time, so really it was designed as a place to pick up materials, to get a quick read, to read the newspaper — to really just be a more quick-stop library," Queens Library Interim President Bridget Quinn-Carey said.
But an explosion in residential development has drawn more families to Hunters Point and Court Square in recent years, increasing demand at the small library — currently the only branch in the neighborhood.
"More and more people are here," Quinn-Carey said. "I hear that there's double-parked strollers outside."
The $467,612 expansion includes a new designated children's room, as well as a meeting room for programs and community events.
"It's perfect," said Angelina Morente, who said she often brings her 7-year-old nephew to the library and said the separate kids' room also ensures that adult library-goers aren't "inundated" by tots.
"Now that they have space, it's a lot better," she said.
The growth is one in a series of changes for the Court Square branch, which recently hired a new children's librarian, officials said.
A group of local residents also formed a "Friends of Court Square Library," group this fall to raise money and advocate for services at the branch.
The location is currently the only one in Hunters Point and Court Square. Queens Library officials have been planning for years to build a new branch on the Hunters Point waterfront. It's currently under construction and is expected to open in 2017.