Cash cascaded down on a small model replica of the Astoria Library during an event Sunday afternoon that was both a celebration of the library’s 50th birthday and the start of fundraising efforts to renovate the building.
“So today we wish a happy birthday to this library building and at the same time recognize that there have been a few changes in libraries and in our world in 50 years,” Mayor Arline LaMear said to the crowd that gathered in the library’s main room and spilled out into the children’s area.
“We’re excited to kick off our campaign to renovate this building and make it relevant to the present and the future, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the benefits of a fine public library.”
The city has already set aside $1.6 million for renovation work, while the nonprofit library foundation has set a goal of raising an additional $3.5 million. A bake sale organized by the Astor Place retirement community raised just over $750 in September.
The entire renovation project will cost an estimated $5 million. Work is expected to begin in 2019 and wrap in 2020.
LaMear, a former librarian, referenced a quote attributed to Roman politician and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
“I’d like to add my own amendment to that by saying a city with a library is a community with both a generous heart and soul,” she said.
Library Director Jimmy Pearson also announced Sunday that, starting this week, the library will be open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To gain these extra hours, the library will close one hour early on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m. The library will still be closed on Sundays.