After a three-year-long wait, the renovated Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library reopened its doors on Sept. 13 to an eager public ready to borrow books and learn.
Some 200 neighbors poured through the library at Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street on re-opening day, for a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony and nighttime festivities that included a reading by famed journalist and Park Slope native Pete Hamill.
The extensive renovation project for the library, first opened in 1906, kept many of the structure’s beloved details even as it modernized the facility. The Park Slope Library’s new features include:
- New reading spaces for children, teens, and adults;
- A renovated multipurpose room for public meetings and programs;
- New technology, including 24 new computers for adults, teens, and children;
- Free WiFi;
- New printers and two self-check machines, which include a book return slot;
- An ADA-compliant ramp, entry door, elevator, and bathrooms;
- Complete interior renovations, including interior finishes as well as an upgraded HVAC, plumbing, fire alarm, and electrical systems;
- An opening-day collection of more than 20,000 new books, periodicals, CDs, and DVDs.
City Councilmember Brad Lander and BPL President and CEO Linda Johnson spoke at opening-night festivities. “This beautiful building is filled with books, iPads, and energy,” Lander said. “What’s really going on here is a renaissance, a discovery of what libraries will be in the future.” Johnson joked that the neighborhood desperately needed its library back because “in Park Slope, if you throw a rock, you almost have to hit a writer.”
Speaking of writers, Hamill, author of the Park Slope-centric memoir A Drinking Life, read from his new book The Christmas Kid: And Other Brooklyn Stories. After the reading, he reminisced about how he’d spend every Saturday morning at the library growing up because “it was warm” and “one thing I knew for certain, bad guys never went in the library.”
Among the attendees that evening was Kevin Scott, another writer (and a comedian) who moved to Park Slope in July. He was happy to have a new place in the neighborhood to get some work done. “I just got my card, I’m ready,” he said.
Park Slope residents also came in large numbers to the daytime ceremonies, along with elected officials and students from local schools. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Assemblymember James Brennan, and Councilmember Lander all took part. Children from P.S. 39, just across the street from the library, made a colorful banner celebrating the reopening; the school does not have a library of its own.
“When a child or adult opens a book or e-reader, they open a door to a brighter future,” said Markowitz. “The renovated Park Slope branch is now a bright, comfortable, and inviting space that will put information, research and the gift of reading into the hands of Brooklynites.”
“The Park Slope community is thrilled to have its beautifully renovated library reopen,” Brennan added.
Interested in keeping this renewed institution a great resource for the community? The Park Slope Civic Council and Councilmember Lander are planning a “friends group” for the Park Slope Library. For more information, contact Catherine Zinnel at Councilmember Lander’s District Office, 718.499.1090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Photographs by Audrey Gray; reported by Audrey Gray and additional sources.
from the September 2012 Civic News