Martin Van Buren High School honored City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) for his work in securing the funding to refurbish the library, which had not been given a face-lift since the school was built in 1957.
The library was in such disrepair that when the councilman and his aides visited the school on 232nd Street and Hillside Avenue in Queens Village three years ago, they were appalled by its condition. There were floor tiles coming loose, inadequate lighting, walls in desperate need of painting and books that were old and worn.
Leffler was able to get funding from the city's capital construction budget in 1998. The School Construction Authority started the renovation project last year and put the finishing touches on the new library over the summer.
"If our city's children are to succeed in school they must be prepared and equipped with the proper tools," Leffler said. "Outdated books and substandard conditions are not acceptable."
He said the students at Van Buren now have a state-of-the-art library with the newest technology, new books and the most up-to-date computers.
"I am pleased to be in the position to be able to improve our local public high school in order to educate all our children and prepare them for the future," Leffler said.
Principal Peter Goldfien said through Leffler's effort to secure funds, "we were able to reconfigure the library and transform the space into a place that will bring the school into the 21st century."
He added, "We also created a research center, which is named the Sheldon Leffler Center."
Goldfien said the new library and research center are important to the education of New York City's students and while it is impossible to know where the 21st century will lead or the Internet's potential for society, the city's students need to be ready.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.