New York, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/11/2011 -- Founded in 1969, the Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center was known as the “store front” library, because it was initially housed in the old Woolworth’s building on 102nd Street and Northern Blvd. The Library moved in 1999 to its current state-of-the-art facility on 100th Street, where the 1ST ANNUAL PHATI’TUDE AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERARY FESTIVAL is being held.
Gabrielle David, Executive Director of the Intercultural Alliance of Artists & Scholars, Inc. (IAAS) and editor-in-chief of phati’tude Literary Magazine has had a longstanding relationship with the Langston Hughes Community Library since its inception, having been raised in the Corona-East Elmhurst area.
During the early 1980s, David and Lorraine Miller Nuzzo (curator for phatLiterature Literary TV Program and currently Art Director for phati’tude), held a successful photography exhibit, “100 Photographs.” During the 1990s, David worked with then Literature Coordinator, Linda Bannerman-Martin, to produce the literary series, “New American Writers of the 90s,” which featured poets and writers such as Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Louis Reyes Rivera, Cornelius Eady, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, Shirley Bradley LeFlore, Regie Cabico, Ethelbert Miller, among others. From this collaborative effort, phati’tude Literary Magazine was conceived, followed by phatLiterature, which was taped before a live studio audience at the Langston Hughes Library.
“It makes sense,” says David, “to hold our annual festival at a Library that is named after the great American poet, Langston Hughes during Black History Month. What makes this festival even more special is that we get to present phati’tude’s African American issue, which features the very best in emerging and established African American writers. Everyone who knows me is aware of my close relationship with the Library, its Executive Director, Andrew Jackson, and his staff. I’ve done programming at other facilities, but I consider the Langston Hughes Library my home. For those of you who have never heard of or have never been to the Langston Hughes Library, I urge you to come. It’s the best kept ‘secret’ in New York City. For years, it has served as an incubator for many of today’s prominent African American writers.”
Now known as the Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, it was founded and conceived by local residents who formed the Library Action Committee of Corona-East Elmhurst, Inc. (LAC). An outgrowth of New York City’s Anti-Poverty Programs, it is the first public institution named for Harlem’s Poet Laureate. Their mission was simple: to provide materials and services to community residents of all ages that would meet their information, recreational and educational needs, with an emphasis on the Black experience. This was the beginning of a working partnership with the Queens Library that lasts through this day.
Funded through the Library Services and Construction Act, Title I, from 1969 through 1987, Langston Hughes Community Library was operated by the Library Action Committee and staffed with local residents as a “federally funded special project” of Queens Library. In October 1987, Langston Hughes gained “full branch status” through a Letter of Agreement between the LAC and Queens Library.
Today, the Queens Library is responsible for operating and staffing the library, while the LAC serves in an advisory capacity to Queens Library and is solely responsible for funding and operations of the Cultural Arts Program and the after school Homework Assistance Program.
The Library relocated in 1999 into a state-of-the-art building located two blocks from its former space, which features a separate Children’s Room, classrooms, a courtyard for library programs, an auditorium with performance stage, and a gallery area to exhibit works in a variety of media by emerging and established artists. It houses the largest circulating Black Heritage collection in New York City, and is home to the Queens County’s Black Heritage Reference Center, servicing readers and scholars alike. In addition to its extensive African American circulating materials, and in keeping up with the demographics of its constituency, the Library has extended its resources to include material about Latinos, Native and Asian Americans.
The Library continues to offer a broad spectrum of community-based cultural arts and educational programming to the public. The Cultural Arts Program presents musical concerts, film screenings, literature and poetry readings, creative writing workshops, author and publisher fairs, lectures and panels, artist exhibitions, two annual jazz brunches and the Annual Langston Hughes Celebration, Kwanzaa Celebration and Family Day. Homework Assistance Program operates during the school year providing assistance with completion of daily homework assignments and skills development for first through seventh graders.
Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center is located at 100-01 Northern Blvd., Corona, New York and is open Monday-Saturday. For more information, call 718-651-1100.