A Community Bedrock for Over 100 Years
Originally published in the January/February 2009 issue of Library Matters, a Queens Library publication.
Queens Library at Whitestone has offered free public library service and enriched the lives of northern Queens residents for just over a century. The ninth and last of the borough’s private libraries for members, the Library of the Social League of Whitestone, turned over its subscription library collection to Queens Library on May 1, 1907. It had fewer than 900 volumes in “a very small and uncomfortable room” before moving to a woodframe building early in 1908. The current location is the library’s fourth since 1970.
Queens Library at Whitestone serves the communities of Whitestone, Malba and Beechhurst. The neighborhood got its name from a light-colored rock located in the East River between the Whitestone lighthouse and the Queens shoreline. It became an incorporated village in 1869.
Community Library Manager Nonyem Iloabachie describes current Whitestone’s residents and the library with great affection: “Since I arrived six years ago, Whitestone has been my home away from home. I fell in love on my first day. Retiring manager Eileen Ragone introduced me to some customers during my first days. Now, some of them call me by name and I know most of their names, too.”
In addition to English, Whitestone has materials in Chinese, Greek, Italian, and Spanish. The library recently acquired more Korean-language materials when, says Iloabachie, “we saw an increase in the Korean population.” She points out that customers participate in materials selection, saying, “Our customers even suggest our purchases in any language; they’ve had very good ideas.”
Whitestone customers are becoming more technologically savvy, too, thanks to Customer Service Supervisor Bridget Reardon, who has led computer classes for the past year, with classes booked until April. Customers have fun, too. When Children’s Librarian Susan Scatena challenged Summer Reading Club participants and children responded by speeding through 4,303 books, she let them cover her in Silly String during a summer finale shootout on the front steps.
Iloabachie says, “The staff and I get such gratification from serving so many who see this library as we do — the bedrock of the community.” Visit Queens Library at Whitestone today, and learn what all the fuss is about.
Queens Library at Whitestone
150-10 14th Avenue