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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
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
Girl Scout Troop 2657 made this video to save the Pacific Street Library, a property the Brooklyn Public Library plans to sell off. They also started a petition in April, which they read at a press conference on the steps of City Hall. The 17-member troop started advocating for this library because they use its community meeting room every Wednesday. BPL plans call for moving the branch into the new Two Trees development off Fulton Street. The BPL is facing budget cuts and said it cannot afford the $11 million renovation that the building requires. (The BPL also recently put this pop up on their website for Brooklynites to speak out against coming budget cuts.) The proceeds from the building sale would go toward the new branch at the Two Trees site.
The Brooklyn Public Library is holding its first ever “Bike the Branches” event, a day-long bike tour through BPL’s network of 60 neighborhood libraries on Saturday, May 11. The proceeds from the ride will support Brooklyn library services, which include programming, technology and collections. Riders will set their own route and pace, although the BPL will offer suggested routes that focus on the waterfront, literary history and library architecture. Select branches along the way will offer programing and activities, including music, magic shows and a transportation workshop. The tour ends at the Central Library Branch in Grand Army Plaza, with music, entertainment and prizes from 5 to 7 pm. Registration for the tour is $20 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for children. You can sign up right here.