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Local News January 24, 2013  RSS feed

Langston Hughes Center A ‘Literary Landmark’

E. Elm. Branch Gets Special Honor

The Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center in East Elmhurst will be nationally recognized on Saturday, Feb. 9 as a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries.

A plaque will be placed in the library at 100-01 Northern Blvd. during the annual Langston Hughes Celebration.

The library is the first public institution named for the famed poet/author of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes wrote more than 860 poems in his lifetime, and was heralded as an author of short stories, plays, essays, anthologies and as a journalist from the 1920s until his death in 1967.

Although Hughes lived in Harlem, the library was named in his honor in 1969 when it opened for public service. The Langston Hughes Community Library is home of the Black Heritage Reference Center of Queens County, housing New York State’s largest public circulating collection of print and non-print material on the African-American experience.

This collection is now estimated at over 45,000 titles, including approximately 1,000 volumes of theses and dissertations on African-American literature.

The library was founded by residents of the Corona and East Elmhurst community. They formed the Library Action Committee of Corona East Elmhurst, Inc. and operated the library’s daily operations from 1969 through 1987 as a “feder- ally funded special project of Queens Library.”

In 1987, the library became a fullfledged branch of the Queens Library, although the Library Action Committee still has responsibility for funding and operating the after school Homework Assistance Program and the Cultural Arts Program.

The plaque presentation will be part of the 28th Annual Langston Hughes Celebration. It will be made by Rocco Staino, United for Libraries board member emeritus and director of the Empire State Center for the Book.

In her letter to Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante, United for Libraries Executive Director Sally G. Reed said, “I am most pleased that you’ve applied for this designation for a man who had such significant impact on African-American literature and American literature generally.”

The events will include a screening of the biographical film Hughes Dream Harlem by Darralyn Hudson, a lecture by author Jamal Joseph with a special musical rendition of Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by the IMPACT Performing Ensemble, a presentation by Museum of Modern Art staff member Marcia Garcia, a lecture on Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance by historian Rashidah Ismaili Abu Bakr, and the presentation of six scholarships for African-American Heritage Month by Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall.