A controversial proposal to turn a Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) Brooklyn Heights branch into condos with a branch on the bottom floor cleared a hurdle in late July, when the local Community Board approved BPL’s proposed sale. Next, the deal goes before Borough President Eric Adam at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 18. If it passes that hurdle, it still needs to move through the City Planning Commission and New York’s City Council before becoming final.
In partnership with local nonprofit arts and media organization Brooklyn Information & Culture (BRIC), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) in July opened a state-of-the art, three-camera television studio in its Coney Island branch. Outfitted with equipment including HD cameras, a TriCaster switcher, a green screen, and professional lighting and audio gear, all provided by BRIC, the studio will serve as a set location for BRIC’s community access television network, as well as a classroom for regularly scheduled, hands-on studio production courses.
A unique partnership between New York’s Department of Education and the city’s three public library systems, MyLibraryNYC has made its way into 488 pre-K–12 schools across the city this past school year, serving more than half a million students and over 60,000 educators.
NYC Neighborhood Libraries_groupLibrary leaders, staff, friends, and council members gathered May 20 in a grand celebration atop New York City’s Hearst Tower to for the second NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. This year, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation teamed up to make the awards even more impactful, doubling the total award amounts and creating strong engagement with library users along the way. The ten winning branch libraries were selected from more than 13,000 nominations. The five winners, which each received $20,000, are: Langston Hughes Library, Corona (Queens); Mott Haven Library, Mott Haven (the Bronx); New Lots Library, East New York (Brooklyn); Parkchester Library, Parkchester (the Bronx); and Stapleton Library, Stapleton (Staten Island).
New York City’s libraries get a fair amount of attention, but all too rarely is it directed to the branches. Those neighborhood hubs arguably have the greatest impact and potential, cultivating the essential connection to the community at the most local levels in more than 207 buildings. Unfortunately, according to the Center for an Urban Future, they are also at risk. The time has arrived to embrace a new citywide strategy to deliver excellent library services to all New Yorkers.
In the wake of accusations that suspended Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas W. Galante mishandled library funds, Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) proposed legislation on October 21 that would require all three of New York’s public library systems to publicly disclose how their money is spent.
A group of twelve people gather around a table about to transform used bicycle tubes into fashionable pouches or change purses. Next month it could be knitting—or making bracelets from old printer cables. At the Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), the library has tapped into the New York City borough’s thriving artisanal community to create a popular monthly workshop for 12-15 adults.
More than a dozen New York City Council members, the presidents of New York’s three library systems, and several hundred librarians, library staff, supporters, advocates, and children from nearby schools rallied on the steps of city hall to protest $106 million in proposed funding cuts. Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Vincent J. Gentile also pledged to introduce legislation that would create a baseline of stable funding for the city’s public library services.
BPL, one of three systems in New York City and the country’s fifth-largest library (by population served), has suffered consistent underfunding of capital needs, with its 59 locations facing a $230 million backlog of deferred maintenance, barely dented by the $15 million annual allotment of capital funding.
Their solution: sell two aging libraries that occupy valuable land, and work with real estate developers to include libraries in residential towers. It’s not uncommon for urban libraries to consider mixed-use buildings, though few face the real estate froth characteristic in Brooklyn.