Sunday, March 2, 2014

Carnegie Libraries

An interesting article at Brooklynology, the BPL Brooklyn Collection blog, on the history of the Brooklyn Carnegie libraries. Brooklyn librarians (like their counterparts in other boroughs?) are not allowed to comment on the current destruction & "redevelopment" of city libraries, though I know many feel passionately about this travesty. It's nice to hear a quiet voice of dissent from the Collection:

  It is certainly no secret that the Pacific branch -- the very first of the Carnegie libraries to be built in this borough -- is facing potential demolition now that it has found itself in poor physical shape and, coincidentally, next door to one of Brooklyn's hottest properties, the Barclays Center. 
...As the public debates the merits and atrocities of clearing our oldest Carnegie branch in the name of progress, it is only prudent to take a moment and look at those pieces of his legacy that have already crumbled to dust through neglect and obsolescence.   

I was amused by a reference to the Park Slope branch, which was recently deemed worthy of a grand & costly renovation, something its Pacific neighbor, which serves a less economically advantaged population, and is considerably more significant architecturally (but also has that Barclays-friendly location), has been thus denied. Still, though the Park Slope branch is in no danger (no mean feat these days), its renovation has left it with  fewer books, and a bilious interior glossier and gassier than ever.  The folks at the Collection (you lovely people) are not much impressed by its charms:

  The Park Slope branch recently received a major renovation, perhaps making it once again the "most pretentious" of the Carnegie-funded branches, as the Brooklyn Citizen described it at its opening in 1906. Below, the showy Prospect Park branch around the time of its opening (see link above for picture). Now known as the Park Slope branch, it is oddly prescient that this building was deemed a bit much from the beginning.

Ha ha. Let's hope that the new administration's audit of the library systems and more cautious development strategy helps save the beautiful & busy Pacific.  And thank you Brooklyn Collection for your ever stellar work.

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