Taneya Gethers isn’t just an advocate for culturally empowering programming. She is passionate about the community she serves—where she, her husband, and her four children reside. At the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), located in the borough’s largely African American Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Gethers has become known for her popular programs that combine a commitment to celebrating culture with a strong dose of literacy as well.
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.
Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) collected more than 20,000 children’s books to help replace library collections damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The library advocacy and support group, founded by 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker Christian Zabriskie, also placed Mini Libraries in front of libraries that were closed by storm damage. Locations include Queens Library branches in […]
The Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday unveiled its Central Library’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons area—a new public space designed to complement the building’s history while pointing toward the library’s future. The 5,500 square foot area “is really what I consider the nucleus around which our future service delivery strategies will revolve,” Richard Reyes-Gavilan, BPL’s Chief Librarian, told a group of librarians gathered from throughout the region to preview the space last week.