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Open Kew Gdns. Hills library Sundays: CB 8

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Community Board 8 members unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Kew Gardens Hills Library to be open Sunday. Kew Gardens Hills is one of 14 libraries slated for closure on weekends beginning next month.

“We need service on Sundays at Kew Gardens Hills,” said Patricia Dolan, president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association. “Sunday is the only time the children in that community can visit the library.”

A proposal to close the Kew Gardens Hills institution Sundays beginning in February has been met with anger from residents of the predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood since individuals there would not use the library Saturdays because it is their holy day.

CB 8 member Marc Haken said area residents had long fought for the library to be open on Sundays and finally won their battle in 2007, when the City Council allocated $11 million for library weekend service. Much of that funding has been cut.

“In CB 8, it was easy for them to determine which library was going to be closed,” Haken said. “The Kew Gardens Hills branch is the only branch library open on Sundays, and they have to pay overtime.”

Library officials announced earlier this month that nearly $20 million in budget cuts have forced them to end weekend operations at 14 Queens library branches at the beginning of February.

Starting Feb. 1, the Arverne, Astoria, Baisley Park, Court Square, East Elmhurst, East Flushing, Kew Gardens Hills, Lefrak City, North Forest Park, Ozone Park, Queensboro Hill, Ridgewood, South Hollis and Windsor Park branches will only be open weekdays.

Queens Library spokeswoman Joanne King said the branches were chosen for a number of reasons, one of which included accessibility.

King said the decision was made based on such factors as traffic patterns, other libraries in the community and if a venue would soon be undergoing construction, as Kew Gardens Hills will.

The system’s other branches, including the Central Library and Flushing branches, will remain open on weekends, according to the spokeswoman.

City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said he was “very upset” by the decision to close the Kew Gardens Hills library.

“I’m going to do everything I possibly can to turn it around,” Gennaro said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Updated 5:44 pm, October 10, 2011
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