Despite the advent of Google and other tools that have simplified access to information, public libraries have maintained their relevance by responding to complex problems within their communities, said David Lankes, professor and Dean’s Scholar for New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, during his keynote address at the the fourth annual Urban Libraries Conference on May 6 at the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) central branch. Lankes elaborated on this thesis throughout his “Rocket Science Is Easy” presentation to kick off a day filled with presentations and discussions on current issues affecting urban libraries.
Urban Libraries Conference Highlights STEAM for Kids, Programs for Adults, and DC Makers in Residence
As part of its new BKLYN Incubator project, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is inviting librarians from across the system to come up with creative new programming at their branches. With the help of a $25,000 Sparks Ignition Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), BPL has set up a framework for branch librarians to develop and promote their own ideas for programs and services—from an ethnic music performance venue in Coney Island to ballroom dancing for older adults in Carroll Gardens to a Russian literature club in Sheepshead Bay—and for their communities to help vote on the ones they want to see implemented.
In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.
The controversial sale of Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) Brooklyn Heights branch to a New York real estate development group remains up in the air. The latest speed bump in the library’s sale, which was proposed by BPL, is a report suggesting the library system is getting a raw deal on the real estate, which is situated in one of the borough’s poshest neighborhoods.
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.