Two months into her new job as executive director of the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, Smalls says she doesn’t want the silence.
“I want our doors to be utilized every single day that we’re open, for every hour,” she said. “I want everyone in the community to know that this is their library, and they have the right to come inside.”
After seven years of working in workforce development for the Queens Library system in the Rockaways, Smalls jumped at the chance to lead the Langston Hughes library, the only site with its own cultural center.
Growing up with a passion for dancing, Smalls said she was a liturgical dancer. She was also a dance instructor for the youth in her community.
“Knowing that we had a space that took community library services and infused it with actual cultural arts, such as performances, dances, musical seminars, was overly exciting,” she said.
Another exciting yet challenging part of her job is learning how to preserve the legacy of African-Americans in the East Elmhurst and Corona community, while also incorporating the growing Latino population.
Smalls said in the short period of time she has been executive director, she learned that the two culture are more similar than different.
As she continues her new journey leading the library and cultural center, Smalls said she has come to appreciate all of the support the site receives from elected officials and community members alike.
“Seeing how truly pivotal this library is to this community is amazing,” Smalls said.