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Beginning Monday, the Brooklyn Public Library debuts a series of panel discussions, oral history recording sessions, film screenings and workshops about gentrification in the borough. Brooklyn Transitions aims to start a dialogue about changes both good and bad as many once affordable neighborhoods become expensive, the resulting displacement of many longtime residents, and what people can do to remain where they live.

The first panel will look at the history of gentrification in Brooklyn. Sharon Zukin, professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and City University of New York; Sulieman Osman, assistant professor of American studies at Georgetown University and author of “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn”; and Isabel Hill, an architectural historian, urban planner and filmmaker will speak October 20 at 7 pm.

A panel on November 17 will address gentrification in Brooklyn today and one on December 15 will ponder the Brooklyn of the future.

For the Brooklyn Transitions Oral History Project, the library is looking for people to tell stories about the neighborhoods where they were born and raised and how they have changed. Recordings will be archived in the Brooklyn Collection.

Find out more on the Brooklyn Transitions website.

Photo by gigi_nyc

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Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch at Grand Army Plaza needs $100,000,000 in repairs but only has enough cash to cover $30,000,000, according to a report in The New York Daily News. Library officials are about to begin repairing the cracked and leaking roof over the wing on the Flatbush Avenue side, which will cost $1,400,000.

The current roof will be torn off and replaced with membrane roofing, a more durable alternative to traditional asphalt roofs. Next year, the library plans to repair the branch’s Grand Lobby, update aging fire alarms, and fix its creaky elevators. The 73-year-old Art Deco building also has faulty air conditioning, cracked windows, and decaying bathrooms with broken sinks and toilets.

The de Blasio administration allocated $18,000,000 for capital repairs across the BPL’s 60-branch system, which requires an estimated $300,000,000 in repairs. The library is still planning to sell its Brooklyn Heights branch to a developer. Officials began evaluating proposals for a mixed-use condo building with the library on the ground floor in December.

Brooklyn’s Central Library Branch Needs $100 Million in Repairs [NYDN]
Photo by gigi_nyc

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Get a free bike helmet today and bike around Brooklyn’s historic landmarks this weekend with Brooklyn Public Library’s Bike the Branches event. BPL is hosting a helmet fitting and giving away free helmets today at the Central Branch at 10 Grand Army Plaza from 4 to 6:30 pm.

And on Saturday, kids and adults can bike to all 60 of BPL’s neighborhood libraries and participate in various special events. African dancing and folk tales at Clarendon Library in Flatbush, puppet-making for children at the Brower Park branch in Crown Heights, and a Slavic Soul party in Sheepshead Bay are just a few on the long list of events taking place all over Brooklyn.

The library has also posted 12 themed bike routes that highlight Brooklyn’s historic places, including landmarked architecture, breweries and distilleries, literary sites, and early settlements. You can register for Saturday’s bike tour here — tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children or seniors. All the proceeds go towards maintaining and upgrading the library’s branches.

Photo by Brooklyn Public Library via Brooklyn Based

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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

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Two Brooklyn Public Library branches in Cypress Hills and Dyker Heights have received large grants from the city to repair and renovate their aging buildings, according to press releases. The Arlington Library in Cypress Hills, pictured above, has gotten $1,000,000 in city funding to replace its boiler and install new piping, concrete padding, and damaged partitions. The work will be done while the library is open and not in need of heating, unless it has to close because of noise disruptions. Also, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Vincent Gentile have devoted $750,000 for replacing the badly damaged roof of the Dyker Heights library branch. Roof repair will involve demolishing and removing the current roof and installing a new one, as well as potential drain and paver additions. The roof replacement project will most likely be completed by 2016.

Image by Utopian Branch Library

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Today the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library unveiled its newly-installed Espresso Book Machine (EBM), which can print over eight million book titles in any language. It’ll also allow authors to self-publish their work on site… check out the machine in action here. The end result pretty much looks like any other book you’d find on a library shelf. Pictured above is a third grade class from P.S. 399 invited to see how the books are made. Today the EMB was used to print children’s books for the class. Very sweet. You can click through for another photograph.