04/21/14 9:30am

Brownsville’s Stone Avenue Library is commemorating its 100th anniversary and its recent reopening after five months of renovations and improvements at a press conference this morning. When it first opened in September 1914 as a children’s library, hundreds of children lined up to explore the Gothic-style building at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, which was designed to look like a fairy tale castle by William B. Tubby, said a story in The New York Times.

Financed by Andrew Carnegie, it was one of the country’s first libraries devoted entirely to children. If you want to see what the library looked like when it first opened, the Times has a great slideshow with photos from its early years.

The branch has received several improvements, including a gigantic chess board and a “Word Wall” displaying 600 words children should know by 5th grade. During construction, the library was closed as briefly as possible — from November 30 to January 16 and from March 8 to 17. Check out the new interior after the jump!

A Brownsville Sanctuary, 100 Years and Counting [NY Times]
Photo via Historic Districts Council


04/15/14 10:00am

Clinton Hill Library reopened yesterday with an improved interior after five months of renovations. Improvements include a new self-checkout, new central A/C and heating, LEED lighting and ceiling panels, a new paint job, a drawable wall in the children’s room, an updated information desk, new window treatments, new furniture, and a reconfigured, brighter interior space.

The library first opened in 1974 at 380 Washington Avenue. It’s between Lafayette and Greene. Click through to the jump for interior photos.


Next time you’re stuck at the main Brooklyn Public library with nothing to eat, you can indulge in some pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which opened a cafe inside the library on Tuesday. The three-year-old pie shop run by two sisters in Gowanus has gained quite a following among Brooklyn foodies and recently published a cookbook. For now, the cafe in the library at Grand Army Plaza is still under construction and serving a small menu of Stumptown coffee, banana bread and fruit, Grub Street reported earlier this week.

And pie-baking sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen have teamed up with another pair of chef siblings, John and Mike Poiarkoff of The Pines and Vinegar Hill House, to serve sandwiches and seasonal dishes. On March 14, they’ll begin serving a full menu that will include a roast beef sandwich with homemade kimchee and horseradish mayo and a sandwich featuring hummus made with seasonal veggies. When the team is finished renovating the space, it will have white tiles, marble-topped counters and 18 tables, plus outdoor seating during warmer weather.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds’s Elsen Sisters Opening Brooklyn Public Library Café [Grub Street] GMAP
Photo by gigi_nyc

12/13/13 9:00am

The Brooklyn Public Library has just released its top seven proposals for redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Branch at Cadman Plaza West and Tillary, which will be a mixed-use condo building with the library on the ground floor. The BPL and the city’s Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals in June, and received such a large number of proposals that it became one of the most competitive RFPs EDC has ever issued, library officials said yesterday.

Each proposal was designed by a different team of developers and architects (who remain anonymous for now). Designs vary widely but had to include affordable housing and at least 20,000 square feet of library space with no more than 5,000 square feet below grade. Developers are also required to identify and pay for interim space for the library. Some designs include rooftop parks, others have retail space or cafes, but they are all ultimately high-rise condo developments. After construction finishes, the library portion of the building will still be owned by the city in the form of a condo. The new library will be larger, open seven days a week and offer more space for collections, technology, programs and quiet study than the current branch, according to library execs. All the designs are as-of-right according to the site’s current zoning and FAR and will have to be vetted through the lengthy land use review process. Officials estimate the project will be ULURP-certified by late 2014.

Library execs said the sale of the existing branch to a private developer will generate much-needed funding for the Brooklyn Public Library system, which needs an estimated $300,000,000 in maintenance and repairs across all of its branches. Click through the jump to see all the renderings and details for each proposal.

Brooklyn Public Library Evaluating Proposals for Downtown Branch Sale, Development [Brownstoner]
City Releases RFP for Brooklyn Heights Library Site [Brownstoner]


10/29/13 4:00pm

Councilman David Greenfield announced today at a press conference that he had secured funding to build a new public plaza in front of the Midwood branch library at 975 East 16th Street near Avenue J. The $250,000 project, financed from the 2014 city budget, will likely feature benches, trees and various kinds of plants, according to a press release. GMAP

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

09/30/13 4:00pm

The Gerritsen Beach Public Library celebrated its reopening this morning after nearly a year of repairing devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.  During the hurricane, the library was flooded and the already aged roof was damaged, creating leaks throughout the building. The library needed $1.5 million in repairs after most of the interiors and the HVAC system were destroyed. The city demolished the damaged sections and installed new electrical systems, floor tiles, shelving and millwork. There’s also new furniture, computer stations, two new public self-check machines and a new book drop. The Brooklyn Public Library partly funded the repairs with a $300,000 grant from the AIG Disaster Relief Fund and $250,000 from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. More pictures of the new interior after the jump!

Photos by Brooklyn Public Library


09/19/13 4:00pm


The Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch unveiled its newly refurbished front doors today, their beautiful gold-leaf designs restored with the help of a $250,000 award from the Partners in Preservation Program. Partners in Preservation held a citywide competition where 40 different historical sites vied for $3 million in funding, and the public voted online. The BPL received 9 percent of the vote.

Designed by Morton Githens and Francis Keally, the library opened its doors in 1941 with Art Deco detailing by sculptors Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein. It has a 50-foot entry portico set into a concave facade, flanked by gold-leaf figures showing the evolution of art and science. And above the triple doors, a bronze screen features 15 well-known characters from American literature. Architect Toshiko Mori and architectural metal specialists Jaroff Design led the restoration, which involved ”the replacement of the aged bronze patina revolving and paired doors, scissor gates and door saddles, as well as restoring the granite paving at the entrance,” according to a press release.

Above, the ribbon cutting today. From left to right, that’s Roberta Lane, senior field officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cheryl Rosario, Director of Philanthropy for American Express, Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, and Senator Eric Adams. Click through to the jump for a better look at the detail on the doors.

Photos by Brooklyn Public Library (more…)

09/12/13 4:00pm

More than 4,000 New Yorkers voted on their favorite libraries, and three libraries in Brooklyn are among the 10 finalists that could win $10,000. A panel of judges from the Revson Foundation’s new NYC Neighborhood Library Awards will decide which five of those libraries will win the first prize; the next five will get $5,000. The three Brooklyn branches under consideration are the Macon, Sheepshead Bay and Kings Bay libraries. (That’s the Macon branch pictured above.)

The judges are “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine; Kurt Andersen, author and host of WNYC’s Studio 360; Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and former president of the American Library Association; Fatima Shama, NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs; and Don Weisberg, President of the Penguin Young Readers Group.

Photo by audra_martin

07/18/13 12:00pm

The Brooklyn Public Library just announced that it has received $550,000 in grants from the American International Group Disaster Relief Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Six library branches were affected by the storm: Gravesend, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Red Hook, Gerritsen Beach and Coney Island. Both the Gerritsen Beach and Coney Island branches remain closed for significant restorations. The Gerritsen Beach branch is expected to reopen in September and the Coney Island library in October. (The Coney Island branch is pictured above.) Right now, BPL is still working to replace collection losses that total nearly $1,100,000. The grants will go toward building repair and to replace lost collections and circulation materials. In addition to these most recent grants, the BPL has received over $65,000 from other supporters to help rebuild.

Photo by Brooklyn Public Library

06/20/13 1:15pm

The Economic Development Corporation just released a request for proposals for “qualified developers to purchase and redevelop a premier development site in Brooklyn Heights located at 280 Cadman Plaza West” — in other words, the Brooklyn Heights Library branch.  The City has said it wants to sell the 52-year-old library building and the 26,000-square-foot lot it sits on to a developer to raise funds for repairs throughout the library system. The building would be demolished to make way for a new residential development. The RFP asks that the development includes a new, 20,000-square-foot library branch. The city recently said it would hold onto another Brooklyn library threatened with a similar fate, the Pacific Street branch. Proposals for the Brooklyn Heights site are due by September 9. The Library expects to present its Board of Trustees with a recommended development partner by the end of 2013, and then the developer will go through the ULURP process.
Brooklyn Heights Development Opportunity RFP [NYCEDC]

06/19/13 9:00am

As we reported yesterday, the City has agreed not to sell the Pacific branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to developers and move the branch into the BAM South apartment building Two Trees is putting up in Fort Greene. The New York Times took a closer look at the fate of that library and the Brooklyn Heights branch that is also threatened with a sale to developers. “It has become clear that the neighborhood highly values that branch and its historic building,” a spokesman for the library told the Times in a statement. “B.P.L. is committed to working with elected officials and community stakeholders to develop an appropriate plan for the Pacific Street building through an open community process. The plan will acknowledge the needs of the library and the community. This plan could include maintaining some or all of the Pacific Street building and continuing to provide library service and programming for children in the community.” It is still possible that in the future the library could be sold and demolished, but thanks to the new agreement, the City Council would have to approve it. Another possibility is that the library could be gutted while leaving the facade intact. The building is the first Carnegie library built in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn Heights, the library still plans to sell its Cadman Plaza branch, which is only 52 years old, to a private developer. The plan calls for the developer to include a library in any residential tower.
A Deal Spares a Brooklyn Library, for Now [NY Times]
City Council Gives Thumbs up to BAM South [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Library Testing Ground for New Funding Model [Brownstoner]

06/06/13 4:00pm

This weekend the grassroots organization Urban Librarians Unite is holding a 24-hour read-in on the steps on the Central Library Branch at Grand Army Plaza. Participants can sign up to read something of their choosing for a 15-minute period — and yes, the read-in will last for an entire day! The event starts on Saturday at 4 pm and lasts until 4 pm on Sunday. Four hours of family story time will be held from 8 am to noon on Sunday, and the more controversial stuff should hold until the 2 am to 4 am slot. Urban Librarians Unite planned the event to make a statement against the proposed cuts to the public library system.
New Yorkers Organize 24-Hour Read-In for Libraries! [Book Riot]
We Will Not Be Shushed Read-in June 8 & 9th! Sign Up Now! [ULU]
Photo by fredcamino