On July 11, 2023, I read a report by Mary Frost in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the temporary closure of the Carroll Gardens Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (also see a report from one day earlier in the Brooklyn Bridge Parents blog. Ms. Frost summarized the project:
The historic Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. (at Union Street) will be closing on July 21 for renovations, which are estimated to take 18-24 months.Mary Frost
The Carroll Gardens Library, which is located at 396 Clinton Street at the intersection of Clinton and Union Streets, is on one of my regular walking routes. After the Library was closed, I thought it would be fun to take some photographs to publish here in The New Leaf Journal. First, why was the Library closed? I present the official explanation:
The Carroll Gardens Library renovations will apparently take 18-24 months from July 21, as Ms. Frost reported (I would add 6-12 months to the high-end estimate given that we are talking about a City project). The official project announcement on the library states that the renovations include “an upgraded mechanical system” and specifies “HVAC replacement with a new building management system.” Ms. Frost’s report had additional detail, citing to Brooklyn Public Library spokeswoman Fritzi Bodenheimer:
In addition, the first floor will get new architectural lighting and the mezzanine will be ‘refreshed and updated; to serve as a dedicated teen space. ’It will include new lighting, acoustic wall finishes, new furniture and new flooring. There will be a media viewing area and [spaces] for reading and homework,’ Bodenheimer said.
Curiously, Ms. Frost noted that the Brooklyn Public Library branch in neighboring Red Hook “is also undergoing a major interior and exterior renovation” that caused it to close in March 2023 with a projected reopening date some time in 2025. However, I will note that, while Carroll Gardens is bordered on one side by Red Hook, branch libraries in Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights may be more plausible replacement library locations for some Carroll Gardens residents (I will venture, however, that Carroll Gardens would have been the most plausible replacement location for Red Hook). For those who are interested, I refer you to an interesting September 2023 report from a local Red Hook newspaper about the effect of the closure of the Red Hook Library.
Separate from the Carroll Gardens Library being a library, it has a notable architectural history. Ms. Frost explained:
More than 100 years old, the Carroll Gardens branch is one of Brooklyn’s original Carnegie libraries — and the library system notes that it is one of the most beautiful. Its 14,000-plus square-foot interior “retains its original, dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling and other historical features,” according to BPL’s website. The historic details on the main floor of the building will be highlighted through the renovation.
She continued to note that Brooklyn built 21 libraries with an endowment from Andrew Carnegie and that 18 of them, including the Carroll Gardens Library, are still standing. See the Brooklyn Public Library page for more detail. Ms. Forst also detailed how the library itself was designed by William Bunker Tubby, a Brooklyn Heights-based architect, in 1905. Is it a nice building? I vote yes. See my photographs of the exterior:
I have in these pages lightly criticized the Brooklyn Public Library system for vanity spending projects, but it sounds like they are making some meaningful improvements to the Carroll Gardens Library to make it a more pleasant place for doing library business. However, all of these promised improvements do residents little good so long as the library is closed while they are being implemented. For example, the Library is apparently creating a new and improved teen space (note I am not sure what a teen space is or why a library would need one, but I digress), but there are neighborhood teenagers now who will likely be off attending college somewhere by the time the renovations are completed.
Here is to hoping that things proceed on an expeditious schedule and the renovations are completed close to the 18 month low-estimate.