Gowanus Lounge

New York Libraries Updating for the 21st Century

The New York, Brooklyn and Queens public libraries are changing the focal point of the institution away from books and towards meeting what many see as more the more relevant needs of the communities which they serve.

President of the Brooklyn Public Library, Linda Johnson explained:

“Any new library would not be a repository of books by any stretch.   It’s really about the programming. It’s really about how to use the spaces we have to meet our patrons’ needs.”

At Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn’s central library, officials are creating a new technology center with an emphasis on creating space where people can collaborate on projects. There is a plan to develop rehearsal rooms and artists’ studios in some of the branches, hoping to be more useful to Brooklyn’s artist community. In addition, the Brooklyn Public Library is thinking about developing a hub-and-spokes type network which will work on three levels: the central library, regional community centers, and smaller libraries serving neighborhoods, with a focus on after-school meeting places and work spaces for students, added Linda Johnson.

Linda Johnson, President of the Brooklyn Public Library

Ms. Johnson continued to explain how the people using the libraries today have different needs than people in the past. New immigrants need help applying on-line for US visas; English-as-a-second-language classes; and foreign language materials. People without jobs can be coached by library staff on how to write resumes, how to look for a job, and even how to create e-mail accounts.

Libraries are often the only place many New Yorkers can access computers and internet. They are more and more becoming places where patrons can get counseling for troubled teens and guidance on how to acquire the wide array of social services and other help they may need.

In order to achieve this list of goals for the libraries, many of the books will need to be stored off-site, where they can be preserved in more favorable conditions. Visitors who still wish to get a book from the library will be able to request it and have it delivered within 24 hours.

(Photo Credit:Julia Xanthos/News)


Shari has certainly been around the block. As a teacher, writer, former CEO and present day master chef, Shari can cover a human interest story with a flare and style hard to match anywhere. Born and raised in the streets, schools and institutions of Brooklyn, Shari is the epitome of Brooklyn life. Contact Shari at shari(at)gowanuslounge.com.