Park Slope Library - Local History & Photos
The Park Slope Branch began life as a small collection of books on natural history in the Litchfield Mansion in Prospect Park. Known in those days as the Prospect Branch the library soon moved to a storefront building at 372 9th Street, but in 1906 the Carnegie building, designed by Raymond Almirall, opened at the present location. The Brooklyn Citizen called this branch imposing, and the most pretentious of the many Carnegies. The interior features stained glass arched entrances supported by freestanding columns, two tiled fireplaces and a vaulted stained glass ceiling. Major renovations took place in 1948-49 and 1980-81, obscuring some of the original features, but much of the original detail remains visible today.
Open 365 days a year and until 9 p.m. in its early years, the branch provided meeting space for 100 groups a year. In 1911, a collection of special children's books were kept in the office and given to children with clean hands only. In fact, fingernail inspections were a common occurrence in many of the Carnegies during the first few decades of service. From July 7 to September 25, 1916, the library was closed to all children because of an Infantile Paralysis epidemic. Today, through its information resources and innovative programming the Park Slope Branch looks forward to serving this active reading community into the 21st century.
Long noted for its fine brownstones and annual house tour, Park Slope is home for many literary people be they authors, illustrators, or editors. The branch itself was landmarked in the fall of 1998. Neighboring Greenwood Cemetery is the final resting place for many noted New Yorkers like Leonard Bernstein.