QPL’S Tech Lab, a Hub for Innovation and Education, Offers Hands-On Classes and Access to Specialized Software, 3D Printing, and More
Long Island City, NY—Queens Public Library this month marks the 70th anniversary of its continuous presence at the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing complex in the nation, with the expansion of its Tech Lab services to four days a week, as demand for digital literacy programs grows in the area.
Located at 10-43 41st Avenue, the Tech Lab primarily serves the housing complex, which is owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority. A hub of innovation and technology in the community, QPL’s Tech Lab hosts workshops on a wide range of tech topics for all ages, and helps customers build critical skills to succeed in school and in the workplace.
The Tech Lab offers tutorials and workshops on general computer use, audio and video editing, graphic design, 3D printing, web development, computer programming, and video game design. It also provides access to specialized software like Audacity, Adobe Creative Suite, QuickBooks Pro, and Scratch, as well as to Maker Space, Arduino microcontrollers, and Little Bits electronics kits.
This summer, in an effort to go beyond its walls, the Lab launched a community project to explore local urban ecology and experience STEM learning in a creative setting. As part of the project, on Saturday, July 13, participants will board the BioBus, a mobile lab equipped with microscopes and staffed by scientists, and analyze water quality in the area.
Although public library systems in Chicago and other U.S. cities have only recently started offering library services in their public housing complexes, Queens Public Library has operated them for 70 years, first in Queensbridge, and later at several other locations, including the Ravenswood houses.
QPL’s Queensbridge outpost opened in 1949, initially serving as a library branch and then a family literacy center, before becoming a Tech Lab.
Launched in 2017 with a three-day service, the Lab is funded by the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), and supports MOCTO’s investment in digital inclusion at Queensbridge Houses by serving as a ground for new technology programming and facilitating access to the Internet as residents log on to the Queensbridge Connected wireless network.
“Expanding our services at the Queensbridge Houses Tech Lab will help residents and others who live nearby develop the high-demand skills and knowledge needed for many positions in today’s job market,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are grateful to the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the New York City Housing Authority for partnering with us to narrow the digital divide by widening free access to economic and educational opportunities for all.”
"The Queensbridge Tech Lab is a vital part of making Queensbridge a model connected community where residents have the tools, skills, and spaces to make full and creative use of the free broadband service provided by the City,” said Joshua Breitbart, Deputy CTO, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. “This library branch is a proud part of this community’s history, and we are thrilled to help make it a platform for its future."
“Thanks to our partnership with the Queens Public Library, Queensbridge Houses residents of all ages have capitalized on having a tech lab in their community that has provided beneficial digital literacy programming,” said NYCHA Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships Sideya Sherman. “The Queens Public Library has been a critical partner at Queensbridge Houses for the past 70 years and through partnership, the Authority will continue to expand opportunity for youth, seniors, and the families we serve.”
“The Queensbridge Library has been a vital resource in the Queensbridge Community for years,” said April Simpson, President of the Queensbridge Houses Tenant Association. “Since I was a child, the residents of Queensbridge utilized the Queens Public Library. Students used it for school work, parents for bettering themselves on their jobs. Residents also used it for research, fun ways of learning, and just a place to go to and read a book. Their services continue because they offer effective ways of learning for all ages. I support them and pray they stay in our community forever. I am proud of my Queensbridge Library. Congratulations on a job well done.”
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 65 locations, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, two universal pre-kindergartens, and two teen centers.
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