New Queens library cost $41M — but isn’t fully accessible to people with disabilities

A state of the art new Queens library that took $41 million to build over more than a decade isn’t fully accessible to people with disabilities — and bookworms are outraged.
The Hunters Point Library in Long Island City features a three-tiered fiction section that can only be reached by a steep staircase.
But the design fails to consider wheelchair-bound users, some elderly folks and anyone who isn’t able-bodied, advocates say.
“I’m appalled,” Christine Yearwood, founder of the disability rights group Up-Stand, told The Post. “Everybody — young, old, able-bodied and disabled — should be able to enjoy it.”
Yearwood, who lives in Astoria, added: “With all of the delays they had a chance to do this the right way…It’s off-putting.”
The eye-catching lit house opened on Sept. 24 to much fanfare, complete with a sleek modern facade facing East River. Its design began in 2010 and construction started in 2015.
The library has one elevator but it doesn’t stop at the fiction section, which is on three separate levels above the lobby, according to, which was first to report the accessibility problems.
By law, public buildings must meet accessibility requirements in the American Disabilities Acts. And the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has a checklist noting “All parts of the library should be accessible.”
Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokesperson for the Queens Public Library, said the library is aware of the issue.
Enlarge ImageThe Hunt's Point Library
Gabriella Bass
“The building complies with all building codes, including the ADA,” she told Gothamist. “Our staff has been and will continue to retrieve books for customers, and we are going to offer devices that will allow customers to browse the materials available in those areas.”
But critics say disabled people shouldn’t be forced to rely on help from workers — and that browsing for books is part of the fun.
“Browsing is part of the enjoyment of going to the library,” Joe Bachner, a 67-year-old Queens resident with a bad knee, told Gothamist.
“If you can’t walk, you can’t go through that area…With all the money they spent and all the years of delay, it struck me as strange,” he said.
The week it opened, the New York Times called the library “among the finest and most uplifting public buildings New York has produced so far this century” and New York Magazine gushed that, “The Hunters Point Library Was Too Expensive, and Is Worth It.”
But Yearwood said a pretty design isn’t worth much if