By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After a major renovation that took almost three years, the historic Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) reopened on Thursday to crowds of neighbors and local students eager to try out the new computers, iPads and even those quaint things known as books.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the Park Slope community back to this beautiful, completely accessible branch,” Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of BPL said. “We’ve maintained the historic details of this treasured Carnegie library, all while updating it with new community spaces and in-demand technology to meet the needs of our patrons.”
Businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the library at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1906, the library’s interior featured stained glass arched entrances, two tiled fireplaces and a vaulted stained glass ceiling. Over the years renovations and age obscured some of the original features.
According to David Burney, Commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction, the Park Slope branch is one of the most ornate Carnegie libraries. “Our goal was to keep what’s best about the Park Slope Library by restoring its historic interior, while introducing harmonious, contemporary elements that reflect the needs of a modern library,” he said in a statement.
Besides new books, computers, iPads, printers and self-check machines, the work included a renovated multipurpose room, new reading spaces, and complete interior renovations -- including upgraded HVAC, plumbing, fire alarm and electrical systems.
The library has also received an ADA-compliant ramp, entry door, elevator and bathrooms.
“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,” Borough President Marty Markowitz said.
To celebrate the reopening, Park Slope author Pete Hamill read from his forthcoming book, “The Christmas Kid: And Other Brooklyn Stories” and his acclaimed memoir “A Drinking Life.”
Johnson and Markowitz were joined by elected officials Assembly Member James Brennan and City Councilmember Brad Lander, and Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction David Burney.