The New York Public Library celebrated the opening of its 13th branch Monday in Mariners Harbor, where plans for it had been kicking around since 1938. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
It wasn't covered in gift wrap or decorated with a big red bow, but residents say the brand new Mariners Harbor public library is the best Christmas present they could have asked for.
"This is really, really a great Christmas present I wanted a library I had no idea I was gonna get such a grand building," said Belinda Dickson Arlington Civic Association.
Many of those gathered at the library's opening Monday weren't even alive when the idea of building it began back in 1938, at the tail end of the Great Depression. That economic crisis pushed plans back for decades until 1996, when a renewed effort to open it began.
Then came 9/11, and another stall, until construction finally began four years ago.
"The years of waiting, the anxiety and anticipation has paid off," said City Councilwoman Debi Rose.
The $12.5 million library offers some 18,000 books and it's also meant to be a community space. There are several meeting rooms for community programs as well as computers and free WiFi.
"This is definitely going to be a community center. This is going to be a place where you won't see the traditional things happening," said Staten Island Library Network Manager Yolanda Gleason.
"It's 10,000 square feet. We have 38 PCs and Macs as well, lots of books, lots of space for programs," said Mariners Harbor Library Manager Elizabete Pata.
"Everybody is so happy that we're here and this is the best day of my life," said Davina Ramos, a local first grader.