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Queens Public Library and NYC Department of Design and Construction Announce the Reopening of Steinway Library Following Accessibility, Rehabilitation and Improvements Project

$4.9 Million Project Adds Accessible Entrance, Elevator and Upgrades the Interior

QPL: Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, 917-702-0016,
DDC: Shoshana Khan, 718-391-1251,

(Astoria, NY – January 18, 2022) Queens Public Library (QPL) and the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today announced the reopening of Steinway Library at 21-45 31st Street in Astoria, following a $4.9 million project to improve the library’s accessibility for persons with disabilities and upgrade the interior. DDC managed the project for QPL.

library main entrance features new ADA accessible ramp

Steinway Library’s main entrance on 31st Street features a new ADA accessible ramped entrance and a 24/7 exterior book returns machine

"These crucial upgrades to the building offer the community a library that is more inviting, technologically efficient and accessible to all," said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. "We know the public has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the branch, and we are truly excited to welcome and serve them once again."

“The renovations at Steinway Library improve and update a vital community resource for Astoria; a new elevator also opens the library to more New Yorkers, including persons with disabilities,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Acting Commissioner Thomas Foley. “This project is an example of the great work we are able to perform on behalf of Queens Public Library to create and enhance educational spaces for communities throughout Queens.”

“The historic Steinway Library has been a critical anchor of this community for the generations of families who have passed through its doors. With this multimillion dollar renovation effort complete, all Astoria families, regardless of ability, finally have equitable access to the educational and enrichment opportunities this library provides,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Thank you to the Queens Public Library and the NYC Department of Design and Construction for making this project a reality and providing the readers and residents of Astoria with a state-of-the-art facility to learn and grow — they deserve nothing less.”

“Public libraries show us what we can build when we invest in public infrastructure for all New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani. “Congrats to QPL as they reopen our Steinway public library with improvements that make it more accessible for all of our neighbors. I can’t wait for my next visit!”

“I am delighted to celebrate the reopening of the Steinway Library,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “Since I was sworn in, my office has heard a great deal from the community about what a vital resource it is. Thank you to the Queens Public Library for all the resources they’ve devoted to make our library more functional, accessible, and inviting. I’ll see you there on Tuesday!”

“I grew up reading with my parents, doing my homework and research at the Steinway Library. It was a great privilege as a Councilmember to support the renovations of ADA upgrades including an elevator and entrances, a renovated children's floor and upgrades to the overall building,” said Costa Constantinides, former NYC Council Member (District 22) and current CEO Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. “This work ensures that families in our community can rely on this library into the future and continue to make this our community space. Thank you to Dennis Walcott, QPL and all involved for bringing these renovations to fruition.”

renovated childrens room

The renovated children’s and teen areas feature new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting

Steinway Library is one of the three original branches that 125 years ago had become part of the Long Island City Public Library system, which was later renamed to Queens Borough Public Library. The current building, designed by architect Adolph Goldberg in a mid-century modern style, opened in 1956. The 12,500-square-foot structure includes a cellar and two above-grade levels on a 7,600-square-foot lot with a landscaped rear garden.

The completion of the project brings a new elevator providing access to all three levels of the building from the cellar to the second floor. A new ADA accessible ramped entrance and a 24/7 exterior book returns machine were installed at the library’s main entrance on 31st Street. Three new restrooms were installed in the cellar, including an all gender, single-occupant, ADA accessible restroom.

new glass elevator

A new elevator shaft sits at the exterior of the library with translucent glass panels to provide diffused light and views into the courtyard

The second-floor children’s area, teen area, and multi-purpose room as well as part of the cellar of the library were renovated with new ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting. New staff and managers offices were constructed in the cellar. The library’s safety was improved with the installation of a new security system. An audio-visual system was installed to facilitate interactive learning and WiFi capability was expanded throughout the building.

To preserve the interior space of the library, the elevator shaft was constructed in the building’s rear garden featuring an aluminum framed curtain wall enclosure made up of translucent glass panels to provide diffused light and views into the courtyard.

The exterior of the library was preserved with the repointing of some of the deteriorated brickwork and the installation of some new window beams. A new roofing membrane was installed to ensure structural integrity of the building. Insulated glazing was used at the new entrance and elevator enclosure to increase energy efficiency.

The project was designed by Huff + Gooden Architects under DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 program, which pre-selects and pre-qualifies design firms that DDC works with on projects with construction budgets of up to $50 million. The program is designed to decrease the amount of time required for DDC to procure design services, while ensuring the highest levels of quality and professionalism in construction projects managed by the agency. Construction was carried out by XBR, Inc., a local contractor in Astoria.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, Steinway Library served nearly 200,000 customers and circulated more than 225,000 materials a year.

QPL is in the process of planning additional upgrades to portions of the main floor and cellar as well as a replacement of the HVAC system.

Funding for this project was provided by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, former Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and former Council Member Costa Costantinides. Queens Public Library and the NYC Department of Design and Construction are thankful to them, as well as to Mayor Eric Adams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani and Council Member Tiffany Cabán for their support of this project.


About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 66 locations, including 62 branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, and two teen centers.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit