Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Futuristic Kensington Library Branch May Be Last of its Kind for New York

User-friendly Kensington Branch of the BPL
Kensington welcomed the newest member of the Brooklyn Public Library to its neighborhood recently: a gleaming, environmentally friendly complex with large open spaces, panoramic glass windows, and a slew of computers, iPads, and self-check-out, make this library state of the art and welcoming to visitors.

However it seems that it is more likely than not that this will be the last such building project in the BPL system. Building on an empty lot from scratch, like the new 18,500 square foot branch was, is a costly endeavor. New branches added to the system will most likely utilize already constructed spaces.

"In the future, I anticipate it would be more about using storefronts," said BPL president/CEO Linda Johnson.

A majority of the BPL’s 60 branches were donated about 100 years ago by Andrew Carnegie, and they are now ready for some massive repairs and upgrades. BPL estimates that there are over $250 million worth of repairs that need attention immediately, including things like roofs that are breaking down, and broken air conditioning systems. That is a large way from the $15 million that is now available by the city for use by the BPL.

Due to this situation the BPL to look into less expensive ways to improve their branches, such as utilizing storefronts instead of building new buildings.

The new Kensington branch is filled with mostly new 39,415 books and DVDs. It has 24 computers and two machines for self-check-out. As soon anti-theft equipment is installed the library is going to add three iPads for children.

"As peoples habits change so will we," Johnson said. "This is the first step to change our architecture to meet the way people are living and working today."

The Kensington library was one of the busiest in the entire system. There were 104,700 books or other items in circulation from this branch in 2012, ranking it the tenth busiest in the whole BPL system.

"It's really beautiful," said City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Flatbush). "It's the future of libraries and well worth the visit for even those who don't live in the neighborhood."