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Big bucks from Marshall help LaGuardia library expand

LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail Mellow (r.) thanks Borough President Helen Marshall for a $6 million donation that will go to expanding the school's library. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

LaGuardia Community College is expanding its library to include a new, technologically-advanced second floor and nearly double the student seating, thanks in part to a $6 million donation from Borough President Helen Marshall.

“I have always loved libraries,” Marshall said at an event acknowledging her for the donation outside LaGuardia’s library last Thursday. “I think they’re so important. Anything you learn to do, you can find it in a book, including a lot of enjoyment, a lot of excitement and everything that goes with life.”

The donation came out of Marshall’s capital funds and will go to increasing the size of the community college’s 36,620-square-foot library by 58 percent. The library, currently one floor, will expand to two floors, and the second floor will include a reading room, media lab, open study space and 11 group study rooms. In addition, student seats will be wired with power and data connections and Wi-Fi service will be expanded throughout the library.

Student Body President Shah Amanat said the extra space will help accommodate an influx of students. The school currently has 18,000 credit-bearing students, compared to 16,000 in the fall of 2009, and has 50,000 total students, according to LaGuardia spokeswoman Randy Fader-Smith.

“It’s definitely going to help the students,” said Amanat, who is in his second year at the school. “We do have a lot of students, and it gets crowded.”

He said in the past he sometimes needed to wait 20 minutes for a computer and he also frequently has had to wait for an open seat.

Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson literally sang Marshall’s praises — a short rendition of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” — at the event, thanking her for the donation.

“We love Helen Marshall. We adore Helen Marshall,” he said.

Through the years the borough president has been an advocate for libraries and colleges, he said, and particularly made her mark through her work in the City Council, where she frequently fought to secure funds for education.

“I think that everyone here knows that we have never had a more effective and stronger champion of higher education than when Helen Marshall was chair of the New York City Council Higher Education Committee,” he said.

Construction on the LaGuardia Community College library is expected to begin in the fall of 2013. Once the second floor is finished and open to students, renovation will also begin on the first floor. The school will not have to cut services during construction, school officials said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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