Brower Park Library Moves to Childrens' Museum

Brower Park Library Moves to the Brooklyn Children's Museum

The Brower Park Library sits cozily along the quiet and residential Saint Marks Place. Inaugurated in the summer of 1963, the building opens every day except on Sundays and caters to local residents of all ages. Story Time readings, held multiple times a month, are child and caregiver focused, while the Anime Club, which caters to teenagers, plays niche Japanese animation shows and meets weekly. The library is, of course, a favored space for young people but it does not neglect its adult residents; in addition to the technology services and study space that allows both students and adult learners to web surf, research, or read, the library hosts showings of 1980s movie classics and book club meetings, ensuring a welcoming environment for everyone.

In 2017, it was announced that the library would be merged with the nearby Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Currently, the merger is expected to complete in mid-2020, in a renovation effort summing an estimated 3 million dollars. The library will be moved into an area of approximate size to its current location, without effect to any of the current services offered, although there have been several concerns among residents regarding long term changes the merger could bring about. After nearly 56 years of free public access, one concern is whether or not the new location will imply some cost of admission. As unlikely as this may seem given BPL’s policy of accessibility, it is worth noting that the Children’s Museum does have an $11 entry fee. Some have also questioned whether the museum has the space to host a library which is already among the smallest in the system, as well as whether current employees will see their jobs affected in any way. While the library stipulates employees are guaranteed to maintain their employment, there is a chance some will have to move elsewhere within the system once the transition is complete. Finally, and possibly most pressing of all, adults whom up until now have enjoyed access to the library’s key services wonder whether the company of a child will be a requirement in order to visit the establishment, an attendance policy that is enforced at the Children’s Museum.

Inquiries at both Brower Park and the main Grand Army Plaza branch were met with reservation; the staff at the former commented that they weren’t allowed to discuss information regarding the move, and stated that questions should be directed at the central branch. Unfortunately, inquiring at Grand Army Plaza was equally unfruitful as the information desk stated that they were unaware of the planned changes for Brower.

This may not necessarily suggest an unwillingness by the library system to downplay public concerns about the merger, however. On the Brower Park website, there is a survey section visitors may complete, stipulating one’s age group and preferred services and activities at the branch. The survey also allots space to voice concerns and questions regarding the transition, and there is the option to receive updates regarding future meetings designed to discuss the merge prior to its completion. The survey can be found under the Your New Library tab. Finally, information gathered on said surveys up to the last community meeting held in November 2018 has been compiled into a document addressing local needs and concerns, providing feedback, and depicting the finalized architectural designs in consideration for the renovated library. This document can also be found under the Your New Library tab on the Brower Park branch website.

- Katherine de la Rosa

UpdatesJonathan Judge