Brooklyn Public Library

From Academic Kids

The Main Branch, Brooklyn Public Library, , 2003
The Main Branch, Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, 2003

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), is the public library system of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is the fifth largest public library system in the nation.



The Brooklyn Public Library system was approved by an Act of Legislature of the State of New York on May 1 1892. The Brooklyn Common Council then passed a resolution for the establishment of the Brooklyn Public Library on November 30 1896, with Marie E. Craigie as the first director. Between 1901 and 1923, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $1.6 million, assisting in the development of 21 branches. Ginnie Cooper, previously director of Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, has been the excutive director of the BPL since January 2003.


The Central Library

The main branch, called the Central Library, is located next to Prospect Park, just off Grand Army Plaza, where Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue intersect. The building resembles an open book, with the spine at the main entrance on the plaza, and the two wings running along the avenues. Construction began in 1912 and was completed in 1941. It opened on February 1 1941. The Central Library was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1997.

The Business Library

Another major branch, the Business Library, is located at 280 Cadman Plaza West in downtown Brooklyn. Its history precedes that of the BPL itself. In 1852, prominent citizens established the Brooklyn Athenaeum and Reading Room for the instruction of young men. In 1857, a group of young men established the Brooklyn Mercantile Library Association of the City of Brooklyn, which shared a building with the Athenaeum. The Mercantile Library attempted to be more practical, placing less emphasis on literature and philosophy. In 1869, the two organizations consolidated their holdings and moved to a new building, the Montague Street Branch Library. In 1878 The Mercantile Library was renamed the Brooklyn Library. By 1943, the Business Reference Department was known as "The Business Library." The library outgrew its space, and in 1957, a new building to house both the Business Library and the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood branch was approved by city government. On June 1 1962, the new $2.5 million library building opened its doors to the public at its current location. In 1993, a two-year renovation and expansion was completed.

Visual and Performing Arts Library

The Visual and Performing Arts Library (VPA) is currently in development. Construction is set to begin in 2006, and completion is expected in 2008. The V-shaped library will be located near the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on a triangular site, bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Lafayette Street, Ashland Place and Hanson Place. The 110,000 square foot (10,000 m²) structure will cost an estimated $75 million.

Neighborhood libraries

In addition to the Central Library and Business Library, there are 58 neighborhood branches throughout the borough, as well as a bookmobile.

  • Arlington
  • Bay Ridge
  • Bedford, including the Bedford Learning Center
  • Borough Park
  • Brighton Beach
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Brower Park
  • Brownsville
  • Bushwick
  • Canarsie
  • Carroll Gardens
  • Clarendon
  • Clinton Hill
  • Coney Island, including the Coney Island Learning Center
  • Cortelyou
  • Crown Heights
  • Cypress Hills
  • DeKalb
  • Dyker
  • East Flatbush
  • Eastern Parkway, including the Eastern Parkway Learning Center
  • Flatbush, including the Flatbush Learning Center
  • Flatlands
  • Fort Hamilton
  • Gerritsen Beach
  • Gravesend
  • Greenpoint
  • Highlawn
  • Homecrest
  • Jamaica Bay
  • Kensington
  • Kings Bay
  • Kings Highway
  • Leonard
  • Macon
  • Mapleton
  • Marcy
  • McKinley Park
  • Midwood
  • Mill Basin
  • New Lots
  • New Utrecht
  • Pacific
  • Paerdegat
  • Park Slope
  • Red Hook
  • Rugby
  • Ryder
  • Saratoga
  • Sheepshead Bay
  • Spring Creek
  • Stone Avenue
  • Sunset Park
  • Ulmer Park
  • Walt Whitman
  • Washington Irving
  • Williamsburgh
  • Windsor Terrace


The Bookmobile is 32-foot-long, 11.5-foot-high vehicle housing a mobile library. Carrying up to 6,000 books, the Bookmobile serves communities whose local branches are closed for renovation. The Bookmobile offers many of the services available at other branches.


The Kidsmobile is a smaller, more colorful version of the Bookmobile. During the school year, the Kidsmobile visits schools, day care centers, Head Start and after school programs and community events. In the summer, the Kidsmobile also travels to parks and camps. In addition to books, the Kidsmobile offers storytelling and arts and crafts.

Other New York City library systems

The Brooklyn Public Library is one of three separate and independent public library systems in New York City. The other two are The New York Public Library (serving The Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island), and the Queens Borough Public Library (serving Queens).

External links


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