Today the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons opened at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. It’s a 5,500-square-foot space full of technology available for public use. That means 25 workstations with desktop computers, seven private meeting rooms with electronic whiteboards, a recording studio, a wireless learning lab, and seating and outlets for 70 laptop users. This is the first “information commons” in any New York City public library, and the idea is to provide library users with technology-rich resources, accompanied by private areas for collaborative thinking. The library will also host workshops and classes in the learning lab; several are already planned for the next few weeks. BRIC Media will also offer classes in digital photography, podcasting and video. As Anthony Crowell, the chairman of the Brooklyn Public Library Board of Trustees, told the crowd this morning, “This is a hallmark project that will showcase the power of public libraries.” He called the design, which was handled by architect Toshiko Mori, “fun, challenging, and collaborative.” The library’s CEO Linda Johnson, Marty Markowitz, and donor Shelby White also spoke. White was responsible for the $3.25 million donation that made this space possible. She grew up in Brooklyn herself and attended this branch as a kid. “I hope this is a gathering place for those who want the latest technology and resources, and for those who just want to read a good book,” she said. We think the focus on media creation, in addition to research and information access, is interesting. Sign of the times. Click through for tons more pics of the space.
All the computers are equipped with advanced computer software.
The 36-seat learning lab.
Prep before the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Marty Markowitz speaks to the crowd.