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Small But Beloved Public Library Closing In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A small but beloved public library is shutting its doors in Queens.

The public library system will be closing its One Court Square location after a new owner declined to renew its lease.

The space may be small and the books may be worn, but every week, Jake Yang and his 9-year-old daughter, Rhea, look forward to visiting their neighborhood library. Their father-daughter tradition of several years is about to enter its last chapter.

"I read here a lot and if this library closes down, then I don't really have anywhere else to get books," Rhea said.

For 30 years, the library located at One Court Square has subleased its current space for $1 a year from Citi Group. But the bank is about to move out, and the library says the current property owner told the library to vacate as well.

Parents were devastated to learn Friday that the library will be closing before the end of March.

"There's nothing around here so I think closing down the library is another step back for the community development," Jake Yang told CBS2's Christina Fan.

For its size, the library is immensely popular, seeing 100,000 visitors a year. It provides hundreds of programs to adults and children. Families say it can't be replaced.

"Touching the physical book is what it's really all about," one woman said.

The property's new owner, a private equity firm called Savanna, plans to transform the space to a central dining and retail location. The library, meanwhile, says it's committed to find a new home in the area.

A Savanna spokesperson sent CBS2 the following statement:

"The library has occupied its space under a sublease, which ends by its own terms with the direct tenant vacates the building this year. Our improvement plan for the Annex at One Court Square will deliver a central Long Island City dining and retail destination for residents, office tenants, and visitors, making the most of the property's excellent location and transportation."

"I've met so many parents in libraries, and I've made friends and my kids have made friends in those libraries. I think it would just push people to stay in their homes and that's not healthy at all," parent Ana Claridge said.

The library's official lease ends March 31, but its last day will be before then so staff members can pack and hopefully move to a new location.

The Court Square library is one of more than 60 branches that make up the Queens Public Library.

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