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Corona library set to reopen this week after $3M face-lift

Hi-tech features of the branch, located on 38-23 104th St., include wireless Internet access on 16 desktop and 20 laptop computers and two plasma televisions that will announce future library activities and display a waiting list for computer use. The revamped library also boasts radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, which allows borrowers to check books in and out of the library using a flat-screen computer monitor, eliminating help from a librarian. The technology can also be used to pay library dues using a variety of payment options including credit cards. It will be the first city library to use RFID after city officials first saw the technology in the Chinese city of Shanghai, which caters to millions of library-goers each year. The new technology will allow librarians to help the public in what they were trained to do, according to spokeswoman Judy Close."Librarians will actually get a chance to help people in reference and research needs," she said.The library has made other improvements besides adding state-of-the-art gadgets. A child-friendly atmosphere was made through walls painted in colors such as pumpkin-orange and a faded yellow that crashes into a lavender-colored wall. The space was expanded by 50 percent and now includes 7,000 square feet.People-watchers can look through clear glass windows installed on one corner of the building to attract visitors and observe a woman reading to her child or a man sitting in an armchair perusing a magazine. Around $2 million of the library's funding was secured by Borough President Helen Marshall, while Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg each helped to bring in $500,000 apiece. The face-lift marks a new chapter for the library, which was located in a trailer on nearby Roosevelt Avenue during the renovation. By being located near PS 16, the library was able to attract students through the school's parent coordinator, Victor Lopez, according to branch manager Diane Vitale.The project was needed due to the increasing demand for the library's services from the Dominican, Mexican, and Ecuadorian immigrant communities in Corona, Close said. About one-third of the library's collection is Spanish-language materials."This is really one of the first libraries in the city to cater to Hispanics," Vitale said.She added that the branch plans to hold ESL classes in the fall and a family literacy program next month, where a parent or caregiver can learn English with their child. Lopez will also be organizing an adult summer reading club at the branch to be conducted in both English and Spanish."We're gonna be hopping. We're really going to be moving," Vitale said.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

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