SEE: $ 38 Million Renovation Unveiled at Brooklyn Central Library
BROOKLYN, NY – As Brooklynites return inside the Borough’s Central Library over the next few weeks, they might notice that things look a little – or a lot – different from the last time they were were able to walk the corridors.
With most of the branch closed to visitors amid the coronavirus crisis, library officials completed a massive $ 38 million renovation of the historic building, transforming and revamping some of its most used spaces by the public.
The upgrade, the first phase of a larger renovation project at the library, was first unveiled on Thursday.
“The most comprehensive renovation in Central’s history pays homage to its past and looks with great enthusiasm to its future,” said Brooklyn Public Library President Linda E. Johnson. “… We have efficiently and cleverly reclaimed a lot more space for the public, where millions of customers will soon be able to browse books, connect to computers, refine their CVs, register to vote, and well Moreover.”
The construction project, which began in 2019, included reorganizing many sections of the library to prioritize services most important to customers and make public spaces once used only by staff, according to library officials. .
This included moving check-in and check-out services from a large recessed lobby to the Major Owens Visitor Center through the front doors. The visitor center – named after a former Brooklyn librarian who went on to represent the borough in Congress – includes a new exhibit honoring his life.
Also on the first floor, library officials have transformed an office space once used for its passport services into a ‘New and Outstanding’ book gallery meant to feel like a local bookstore.
Downstairs, a 10,000 square foot space once used only by staff to process books has been transformed into the Civic Commons, or the city’s new location for passports and other services. The space has its own entrance on Flatbush Avenue.
“We were using this large space and we didn’t need it for [processing books] more, so we said, “How do we get this space back to the public?” said Central Library Director Christine Schonhart, adding that much of the library processing had been outsourced. at a facility in Queens.
Thursday’s unveiling comes more than two years after library officials began construction on the first phase of the renovation in January 2019.
Much of the project came full circle as the library was largely empty over the past year, officials said. The central branch, like all Brooklyn branches, has only been open for take-out since it reopened to the public last July. It will be hosting in-person services again next week.
“The silver lining for the pandemic was when we closed we were still able to do a lot of the renovations without interrupting the public or staff,” Schonhart said.
The renovation was funded by a number of private donors and city and state officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Assembly of New York and the State Department of Education. It was designed by architect Toshiko Mori.
“Beyond hosting some of the world’s greatest cultural and educational resources, the Brooklyn Public Library is THE resource center for Brooklynites,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the update. level. “With this new investment, the Brooklyn Public Library can better serve the public, allowing New Yorkers to engage civically, cultivate their small businesses, and expand their careers in their own backyard.”
A second phase of renovation, which is expected to begin in 2022, will include updating the collection wings, creating a new center for adolescents and expanding the adult learning and literacy center.
Check out more photos of the recently renovated spaces below: