Brooklyn Public Library

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Coordinates: 40°40′20″N 73°58′05″W / 40.672359°N 73.968146°W / 40.672359; -73.968146

Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library sunset jeh.JPG
Established 1896
Location Brooklyn, New York City
Branches 60
Size 5,045,500 items
Access and use
Population served 2,565,635 (Brooklyn)
Other information
Director Linda E. Johnson

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is the public library system of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is the fifth largest public library system in the United States. Like the two other public library systems in New York City, it is an independent nonprofit organization that is funded by the New York City and State governments, the federal government, and private donors. In Fiscal Year 2009, Brooklyn Public Library had the highest program attendance of any public library system in the United States. The library currently promotes itself as Bklyn Public Library.


The Brooklyn Public Library system was approved by an Act of Legislature of the State of New York on May 1, 1892. The Brooklyn Common Council then passed a resolution for the establishment of the Brooklyn Public Library on November 30, 1896, with Marie E. Craigie as the first director.

The first main branch moved among various buildings, including a former mansion at 26 Brevoort Place.1 2 Between 1901 and 1923, Andrew Carnegie donated $1.6 million, assisting in the development of 21 Carnegie Library branches.

The Central Library at Grand Army Plaza October 2005, with the entrance-way still under excavation.


There are 58 neighborhood branches throughout the borough, of which many are Carnegie libraries. The library has four bookmobiles, including the Kidsmobile, which carries children's materials, and the Bibliobús, which carries a Spanish language collection.3

Central Library

Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library in January 1941 shortly before it opened.

Located at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway on Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library contains over a million cataloged books, magazines, and multimedia materials.

Bronze gateway to library. Designed and detailed by C. Paul Jennewein and Thomas Hudson Jones.

Brooklyn Collection

The Brooklyn Collection holds the manuscripts and archives for the Brooklyn Public Library and is located at the Central Branch.[2] The Brooklyn Collection, holds over a million individual items including photographs, maps, manuscripts, Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia, a collection for the Brooklyn Eagle of which Walt Whitman edited, and other ephemeral items.


The Bookmobile is a 32-foot (9.8 m)-long, 11.5-foot (3.5 m)-high vehicle housing a mobile library. Carrying up to 6,000 books, the Bookmobile serves communities whose local branches are closed for renovation. The Bookmobile offers many of the services available at other branches.

The Kidsmobile is a smaller, more colorful version of the Bookmobile. During the school year, the Kidsmobile visits schools, day care centers, Head Start, after-school programs and community events. In the summer, the Kidsmobile also travels to parks and camps. In addition to books, the Kidsmobile offers storytelling and arts and crafts.

The Bibliobús is a mobile Spanish-language library. It brings books and other media to Spanish-speaking communities in Brooklyn. The Bibliobús serves sites such as schools, daycares, community-based organizations, senior centers, nonprofit organizations, and community events.4

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons opened at Central Library on January 15, 2013. It features an open workspace with 25 computers and seating and outlets for more than 70 laptop users; 7 meeting rooms, including one that doubles as a recording studio; and a 36-seat training lab.5


Brooklyn Public Library's governing board is the Board of Trustees, consisting of thirty-eight members, all serving in non-salaried positions. The Mayor and the Brooklyn Borough President each appoint eleven of the trustees. Twelve additional members are elected to serve on the Board. The Mayor, New York City Comptroller, Speaker of the City Council and Brooklyn Borough President are ex officio members of the Board. All non-ex officio members of the Board serve three-year terms.6

Linda E. Johnson was named President and CEO on August 16, 2011, after having served as the institution's Interim Executive Director since July 1, 2010. She replaced Dionne Mack-Harvin who served as executive director from March 2007. Mack-Harvin was the first African American woman to lead a major public library system in New York state.78 Previously, Ginnie Cooper, now of the District of Columbia Public Library, had been the executive director of the BPL since January 2003. Other notable executive directors include Kenneth Duchac who ran the system from 1970 until his retirement in 1986. Duchac is the father of John Doe, founder and lead singer of seminal 80s punk band X.

List of directors

  • Mary E. Craigie 9
  • Arthur E. Bostwick (1899-1901) 10
  • Frank P. Hill (1901-1930) 11
  • Milton J. Ferguson (1930-1949)12
  • Francis R. St. John (1949-1963)13
  • John Ames Humphry (1964-?)
  • John C Frantz (?)
  • Kenneth Farnham Duchac (1970-1986)
  • Larry Brandwein (?-1994)
  • Martin Gomez (1995-?)
  • Ginnie Cooper (2003-2007)
  • Dionne Mack-Harvin (2007-2010)
  • Linda E. Johnson (2011-)

Other New York City library systems

The Brooklyn Public Library is one of three separate and independent public library systems in New York City. The other two are the New York Public Library (serving The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island), and the Queens Borough Public Library (serving Queens). The Brooklyn and Queens Public Library cards are also accepted by the NYPL once those cards are linked to the NYPL system at any NYPL branch.14

See also


  1. ^ Building of the Day
  2. ^ Brooklyn's Municipal Library System New York Times 15 December 1900
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons". Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Board of Trustees
  7. ^ Our Executive Director
  8. ^ "Brooklyn PL Director Mack-Harvin Resigns After Three Years; Interim Director to be Named; Board Meeting Tonight," by Norman Oder, Library Journal, 4 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Made Managing Director," Brooklyn Eagle, Sunday, January 30, 1898, Page: 10, retrieved 12/14/2010 from
  10. ^ "New Librarian's Career," Brooklyn Eagle, Sunday, March 12, 1899, Page: 7, retrieved 12/14/2010 from
  11. ^ "Frank P. Hill Will Take Position of Librarian," Brooklyn Eagle, Tuesday, March 26, 1901, Page: 2, retrieved 12/14/2010 from
  12. ^ "NAME BROOKLYN LIBRARIAN :Trustees Elect M.J. Ferguson of California to Succeed, Dr. Hill.." New York Times (1923-Current file), April 30, 1930, (accessed December 14, 2010).
  13. ^ "BROOKLYN LIBRARY INDUCTS NEW CHIEF :Francis R. St. John Becomes Its Fifth Director -- Staff's Pay Discussed by Mayor." New York Times (1923-Current file), May 25, 1949, (accessed December 14, 2010).
  14. ^ [1]

External links

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