Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Going to the Library
Past the abandoned locks at Times Plaza,
past P.C. Richards (where a massive high-rise development is on the cards), I made my way to the Pacific library, reprieved (for the moment) from its own development BPL sell-off nightmares. If the the impending sale of the Cadman Plaza library goes through, along with its redevelopment as an apartment building with reduced-in-size new library space, the BPL has stated that part of the profits will go towards Pacific branch upgrades, but some remain sceptical of the Library's long-term goals for the branch, which sits in prime real-estate territory.
I'm closer geographically to the Park Slope branch but I always feel more at home at Pacific, the first Carnegie library in Brooklyn. It's a beauty of a building, & even though its panoptic design was inspired by less than charitable motives (keeping an eye on those dodgy readers at all times), its layout also makes the place feel intimate. Yes, They could watch You, but you can look all around the place today and observe the working life of a well-loved library. Despite having been neglected over the years, victim of an underfunded system, and institutional mismanagement (some might say malfeasance), Pacific provides terrific service to children & adults alike, and for a small branch it provides a broad & thoughtfully selected range of reading materials. It does a whole lot with a small budget. If I walk into the "most pretentious" Park Slope Carnegie branch & glance at the New Books shelves, there's barely anything that catches my attention, but at Pacific I can always find something interesting. Today I picked up early Capote stories and a memoir of Francis Bacon, but I could have taken half a dozen volumes home, just from a couple of bookcases. At this branch, the art of browsing is still alive (take that, Josh Nachowitz!). And a shout-out to the lovely librarians here - always helpful, and responsive to the readers.
Libraries are vital to the communities they serve. Libraries are vital to democracy, and in today's turbulent political times, they're more important than ever. We can't afford to lose a place like Pacific. We can't afford to lose any of our libraries, or see them reduced in size.
Pacific library, 1958 (Brooklyn Visual Heritage)
Early years (BPL Brooklyn Collection)
Too many earlier posts on libraries - here are a couple.
Pacific Saved for the Moment