Queens Public Library's Capital Program

Queens Public Library maintains 65 physical library locations, comprised of almost one million square feet of real estate. Queens Public Library has a forward-looking capital program so library users will continue to be able to take advantage of safe, comfortable, inspiring spaces that help us deliver quality programs and services.

The strategic goals for Queens Public Library’s capital program are:

  • All library properties are safe and inviting.
  • Every library is designed and equipped for excellent public service.
  • Needed maintenance, repairs, and upgrades are performed in a timely and cost-effective way, with the least disruption of library service possible.
  • Every capital project is undertaken in a manner consistent with transparency, prudent fiscal management, and maximum accountability to the Library’s stakeholders.


How Are Queens Public Library's Capital Projects Funded?

The City of New York owns almost all the buildings that house public libraries in Queens. Pursuant to a 1907 agreement between the City and Queens Public Library, the City is responsible for making such repairs or restorations as are necessary in order to keep the library buildings in proper condition.


Queens Public Library obtains capital funding from: 

  • The Mayor, Borough President, and City Council members. City capital funding has averaged $26 million in each of the last five years.
  • State Public Library Construction Aid is based on a state-wide formula. State funding has been approximately $1.3 million per year.
  • Allocations from members of the State Assembly and State Senate.

In FY 2018, Queens Public Library had active capital projects equaling approximately $270 million. That figure includes building new libraries, expanding existing libraries, renovations, roof upgrades, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, replacement or installation of windows and doors, repairs to masonry, and other infrastructure repairs.

Opportunities exist for private and philanthropic interests to enhance Queens Public Library’s building program. Please contact the Queens Public Library Foundation for additional information at foundation@queenslibrary.org.


How Are Capital Projects Initiated And Prioritized?

Working with the Board of Trustees, elected officials, the community, and Library staff, Queens Public Library’s capital planning team identifies capital needs based on age and usage of a library building and expected life span of roofs and mechanical systems such as heating and air conditioning. The goals are to make needed repairs and upgrades in the most cost-effective way possible, and to do so with the least disruption to public service. The library maintains and updates a 10-year capital plan to facilitate long-range planning and identify upcoming capital needs.


Who Builds Capital Projects For Queens Public Library?

Most large capital projects are managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). DDC is responsible for hiring architects and designers, approving project designs, obtaining bids and awarding contracts for general and trade contractors, the registration of needed contracts, setting and maintaining project schedules, approving and paying invoices, and ensuring the timeliness and quality of the work.

A small percentage of capital projects are managed by the Library’s capital management staff.


Who Oversees The Appropriate Spending of Capital Funds?

Queens Public Library works with local elected officials and has internal controls in place that ensure capital funds are spent in the best interest of the public. Elected officials are regularly updated on the status of capital projects within their districts. Additionally, Library funds are regularly audited by both external and internal auditors, and are subject to audit by the City and/or State Comptroller. You may be interested to know that:

  • Funds for most capital projects are under the control of the City of New York. All costs related to such capital projects are incurred by and paid through DDC.
  •  When Queens Public Library manages a project funded with City capital funds, both DDC and the City’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must approve the project plan and budget. All contracts are awarded through an open bidding process that follows the procurement guidelines of the City, State, and/or Queens Public Library’s purchasing policy.


How Long Does It Take to Build or Renovate a Library?

Most of Queens Public Library’s capital projects are managed by DDC.  When DDC manages a project, it controls the project’s construction schedule. At present, DDC estimates that a new building will take approximately seven years to complete; a renovation will take approximately three years to complete. It is important to note that in order to keep library buildings providing robust public service for as long as possible, design, bidding and other “behind-the-scenes” work goes on for a significant period of time before actual construction begins.


What is the Capital Process?

Active Projects, future projects, and completed projects are listed on Queens Public Library’s website. A project is “active” when it is fully funded up to the amount of the initial cost estimate. Projects are described as being in one of the following phases:

Scope Development: The Library team and its stakeholders determine the specific work to be accomplished, prioritizing the needs and goals within the budget.

Design Procurement: Qualified architects, engineers, and other design consultants are sought out for the project through a competitive, public process conducted according to the procurement guidelines of the City. Most contracts must be approved by the NYC Office of Management and Budget and registered by the City Comptroller.

Design: The design consultants work through a process to produce detailed designs that meet the project goals. Because most of Queens Library’s facilities are owned by the City of New York, changes to the exterior of the buildings must be approved by the Public Design Commission. After all the stakeholders have signed off on the design, the consultants generate a detailed set of construction documents to be used as the basis for contractor bidding and construction.  

Construction Procurement: Bidders for construction contracts undergo a thorough “vetting” process, which ensures that contracts are awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. The contract must be filed for registration with the City Comptroller.

Construction: Contractors build the project according to the construction documents. Queens Public Library’s project managers monitor the progress of the project to help ensure quality and resolve any issues.

Fit-Out: As construction concludes, Queens Public Library assumes control of the site and fits out the space with furniture, fixtures, equipment, data access, computers, books, and other library materials.

Complete: Though there may be small finishing touches needed, once a project is available for use by the general public, it is listed as complete.

On Hold: If an active project cannot proceed in the usual manner, its status will be listed as “On Hold.”

Future projects: Queens Public Library has identified a need for this capital improvement with community stakeholders and elected officials. Financial and other resources are being sought.

How Can I Become A Bidder For Queens Public Library's Capital Contracts?

Procurement opportunities for Queens Public Library’s capital projects are advertised in the “City Record” and/or through other publicly accessible media. They are open to all qualified vendors. Bid awards follow relevant City and/or State guidelines, and/or the Queens Public Library’s purchasing policy. For Queens Public Library managed projects, procurement opportunities are also posted on the Queens Public Library website.