Back in August 2009, it was announced that the Park Slope Library (located on the corner of 6th Ave and 8th Street) would be closing its doors for a well-needed renovation. Library and city officials announced necessary changes, including the addition of ramps and elevators for the handicapped. Heck, there was even talk of a new air conditioning system. The library would remained closed for a full year during the process.
Well, we all know how that worked out.
Countless delays, budget increases, and project reorganizations later, and we've finally got an opening date. The Park Slope Library will be open for business by the start of this Fall school year; Labor Day Weekend, September 2012.
If it does in fact open as scheduled, it'll be over three years since the project was first announced.
The announcement came last night at PS39 from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson, who led a public forum to discuss the status of the Park Slope Library. I won't get into why the project's been such a giant clusterfuck, except to say that it seems like most of the responsibility falls on the Department of Design and Construction, who didn't prioritize the work (as a non-revenue generator). They didn't even show to the meeting to defend their decisions. Lander and Johnson did their best with a shrinking budget, unforeseen issues in renovation, and tons of bureaucracy. It's a wonder anyone can do anything in government, really.
Anyway, with that in the past, here's some of the things you can expect to see when those doors reopen:
- Full ADA compliance, including ramps and elevators
- A totally redesigned interior, with new floors, lighting, bookshelves, etc
- New bathrooms
- Brand new computers and technology tools for educational use
- Free WiFi (and some workstations)
- An updated, diverse catalog of titles
- Extended hours of operation. The average right now per branch is about 43. The Park Slope Library hopes to average around 46 hours a week, over 6 days a week (closed Sunday).
- New programs (in additional the the usual school tours, story times, and book club meetings).
They're not all out of the water yet, though. For a space that needs to open in September 2012, the Park Slope Library is seemingly way behind. So far, they've attacked most of the infrastructure issues, and installed an entrance ramp, elevator, and renovated the bathrooms. They still need to do all the interiors. And after they open, they'll address the outdoor issues, including the brownstone finishing, which needs major repair. Oh, and they have to tackle the air conditioning unit -- a loud, bulky monstrosity that's long been a complaint of the library's neighbors. If you think this construction will end when the library opens, you're wrong. They'll probably just be halfway there.
It's a shame, really, considering how much cool shit could be happening at the library. Don't get me wrong -- a library is never really the cultural epicenter of a neighborhood. But it's usually a great foundation that hits a crossroads of all demographics of people. And if Johnson and her team come up with some good ideas, they can reach out and involve the community in some pretty cool ways. Someone at the meeting yesterday brought up a Speaker Series, with local authors/bloggers/filmmakers. Another mentioned we take a page from the Museum of Natural History and do late-night social events. They could take it one step further and do dance parties. Or weddings. How cool would that be?
Then again, I'd probably be happy if I just had some place to take out a book or do some quiet writing. That sort of thing is hard to find in this neighborhood without having to fight over space at a crammed coffee shop.
What do you think? Do you even care about the Park Slope Library? Will any of you use the library? Did any of you before? Is the renovation enough for you? And if so, what kinds of programs do you hope to see?