Queens Library pulls an all-nighter with 31-hour marathon in Rockaway

Queens Library pulls an all-nighter with 31-hour marathon in Rockaway

The library’s CEO embraced the lighthearted tone of the event, visiting staffers clad in a wet suit with surfboard in hand.

Dennis  M.  Walcott, CEO of the Queens Public Library, is getting in the spirit of the library's upcoming all-nighter  on August 26-27.
Dennis M. Walcott, CEO of the Queens Public Library, is getting in the spirit of the library’s upcoming all-nighter on August 26-27. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tucker Ranson

Pulling an all-nighter at the library has never been so fun.

The Queens Library is keeping its Peninsula branch open for 31 hours straight next weekend as part of a broader community outreach effort.

That means the library will be open at 2 a.m. Sunday in case you get the urge to take part in a karaoke dance party. If not, come back an hour or two later for “Board Games for Insomniacs.”

Outdoor screenings of “Finding Nemo” and “Jaws” will take place just steps from the sand along with sunrise yoga on the beach, live music and story time throughout the day.

Queens Library CEO Dennis Walcott is embracing the lighthearted tone of the event, recently visiting staffers at the Rockaway branch clad in a wet suit with surfboard in hand.

But the former city schools chancellor and one-time deputy mayor is serious about wanting local residents to know the library is a vital community resource.

“The Queens Library is for everyone,” said Walcott, echoing the title of the organization’s public service campaign. “Our goal by staying open 31 hours is to go beyond our walls and do different things for our customers. Some people can’t access the library during normal hours.”

Walcott pointed out the library is a safe place for kids to go after school, for immigrants to get help in their new country and for adults looking for assistance with literacy or getting a high school equivalency.

The Peninsula branch on Rockaway Beach Boulevard has a particularly close bond with the surrounding community. Located near the beach, it was hit hard during superstorm Sandy in 2012. While the flooded building was closed for repairs, the library opened a mobile unit outside where residents could get free books and emergency information, power their mobile devices and just relax.

The newly refurbished library reopened in 2015.

“I think a lot of our community doesn’t know how many services are available to them,” said Sarah Hennig, the children’s librarian at Peninsula. “For a lot of the kids, this is like their second home. I wish their parents were more active with the library.”

The marathon starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday with the opening of a mobile library on the boardwalk and a 10 a.m. community breakfast. It ends at 4 p.m. Sunday with a jazz concert.

In between, police officers and firefighters will read to youngsters and teens can compete in an UNO tournament. There will be a back-to-school informational giveaway and a build your own skateboard workshop.

For a full list of events go to queenslibrary.org.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of new people and having them realize ‘Wow! This is what the library has,’” said Hennig, who is readying a mermaid costumer for a special story time on the beach.

Walcott said the library held its first 31-hour program at the Corona Library in May.

“I visited at different points and one of the things that touched me was watching a mom and her daughter working on a computer at 10 p.m.,” he said. “Normally, the library would not have been open.”

Hennig said staffers are excited for the event. While some will work day shifts others are happy to take the overnight hours.

“We have a lot of night owls here,” she said.

Lisa L. Colangelo