By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bensonhurst residents are losing one of their favorite local libraries, but only temporarily.
The New Utrecht Library at 1743 86th St. is shutting down for a month starting on Jan. 18 for a technology upgrade, according to officials, who called the coming changes "customer service enhancements."
The branch is expected to re-open on Feb. 19. While the branch is closed, patrons are being directed to use other nearby branches of the Brooklyn Public Library including: the Dyker Heights Library, 8202 13th Ave.; the Highlawn Library, 1664 West 13th St.; the Mapleton Library, 1702 60th St.; and the Ulmer Park Library, 2602 Bath Ave.
The New Utrecht Library dates back to 1894, according to the Brooklyn Public Library’s website, which describes the foundation of a literary club called the "Winter Society" in the Free Library of the town of New Utrecht in 1894.
Members of the library applied to join the Brooklyn Public Library system in 1901. At that same time, the New Utrecht Library moved to a home known as Linwood House on Bath Avenue and Bay 17th Street.
As the library continued to grow in terms of usage, it moved several more times, until 1956 when it found a permanent home; a two-story brick building, designed by the architectural firm Candela and Resnick, that opened on 86th Street.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), chairman of the Select Committee on Libraries, said the technology upgrade is necessary, given the large number of people who use the library in this digital age.
“Whether it’s helping adults upgrade work skills and find jobs, fostering reading skills in young people, assisting immigrants with assimilation or providing access to technology for those without a computer or Internet connection at home in this new digital age, New York City's public libraries are serving more people in more ways than ever before,” Gentile said.
“In fact, some 40 million people visited our city’s public libraries last yea. That's more than all of New York City’s professional sports teams and major cultural institutions combined!” he said.
Brooklyn Public Library is beginning a campaign to advance “digital literacy and engagement” across the borough.