It’s the end of an era and a new beginning for the Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL).
After countless meetings, extensive outreach, and at times, protest, the branch, located at 5108 Fourth Avenue, shut its doors on Monday, April 23 as it prepares for a massive renovation that will increase its current 12,200-square-foot space to 20,755 square feet with 18,200 open to the public. In addition, the project being spearheaded by the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) will create 100 percent affordable housing above the library.
In the meantime, the BPL is prepping its interim space at the landmarked courthouse, 4201 Fourth Avenue, where Community Board 7 is located. It will officially open on Monday, May 14.
During the latest CB 7 meeting on Wednesday, April 18, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca discussed the new space.
“It’s no secret that the community has been wanting to take over this building for a long time,” he said. “Now we literally have a foot in the door. We want to take over the whole building. That’s the big plan and I think this is going to be a big step.”
The opening of the interim library will be a cause for celebration, Menchaca added.
“I don’t know what it looks like but we’re going to celebrate it on May 14 where we open up this space,” he said. “There’s going to be two weeks of time where they’re going to actually have to physically bring the books over and re-set up everything and there’s going to be a mobile bookmobile to bring people here to get everyone excited for the opening.”
As of Monday, April 23, Bookmobile service will be provided near the interim library on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. through Friday, May 11.
Branch manager of Sunset’s BPL Roxanna Benavides also briefly addressed the changes.
“We are really looking forward to our new home at CB 7,” she said. “We are going to be out with the community and we are going to be able to provide all the services that were offered at the other library.”
Naila Rosario of BPL discussed developing better communication with local residents.
“We are looking for ways to provide service during the closure so we are committed to doing extra outreach in the community,” she said. “I will be reaching out to the schools that are in the district and organizations that would like to partner with the library. Please reach out to us.”
Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Brooklyn Public Library David Woloch expressed excitement.
“Almost all the space we’re getting in one of the old courtrooms has really high ceilings and big windows. Our approach was to have a flexible design with bookshelves and tables that can be moved if necessary and we can fit a community room into the space,” he told this paper. “It’s called a box within a box and that room is going to allow us to continue the great programming we have been providing in Sunset Park but within an enclosed area so it doesn’t interfere with other activity happening throughout the branch.”
He’s also excited about working with CB 7.
“It’s going to be beautiful space, very welcoming and I think the location is important. It’s still a convenient location at Fourth Avenue,” he said. “One of the really exciting things about this library is we are essentially sharing a first floor space with CB 7. It’s really the only co-location of a library and a community board in the city and it will almost become a town square in the Sunset Park neighborhood.”
Menchaca agreed. “What is really exciting though is that this is the only Brooklyn Public Library in the system that is connected and has synergy with the community board space,” he added. “Let’s come up with ideas about how these two institutions can come together and make some magic in engaging everyone in our neighborhood.”
The Sunset Park library is considered to one of Brooklyn’s busiest libraries.