Bklyn Incubator Program to Fund Innovative, Branch-Driven Programming at BPL

February 1, 2016

Public Asked to Help Launch Programs by Liking and Commenting on Facebook

Brooklyn, NY—Coding classes for kids. Stress reduction techniques for teens. Ballroom dancing for seniors. These are just a few of the ideas librarians have come up with through the Bklyn Incubator, a new Brooklyn Public Library program that funds creative programming ideas developed in the system’s 60 branches. Now, the public can help decide which programs will be launched this year by liking or commenting on the proposals at the Bklyn Incubator Facebook page. Public feedback will be one factor that helps determine which projects will be considered for funding by a panel of library professionals.

In addition to funding, the Incubator provides staff with training and mentoring on how to write grants, implement programs and manage projects. BPL’s aim is to develop a model that other libraries can replicate to empower their staff and develop more innovative programs at the branch level.

“BPL librarians and staff are integral members of the communities they serve and care deeply about their patrons,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “We’re proud of the fun, inventive programs they’ve developed through the Incubator project, and we encourage the public to share their feedback on social media.”

Librarians from 18 branches have submitted 26 program ideas. Through February 3, the public can share feedback on the Facebook page. The proposals will be evaluated by a panel of BPL staff from various departments who will take the public feedback into account as they decide which projects will be funded. The winning projects will be announced in mid-February.

The Incubator is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which awarded BPL a $25,000 Sparks Ignition grant with the support of US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The grant program encourages libraries to test and evaluate specific innovations in their operations and services. The IMLS funding will be matched by the Library.

“Libraries are vital to our democratic society because they provide citizens with access to literature, computers and other educational resources. The Brooklyn Public Library Incubator is a terrific initiative that engages the community and allows them to help decide what types of programs and services should be offered. I am thrilled that the Institute of Museum and Library Services has recognized the importance of the Brooklyn Public Library’s proposal and has provided the federal funding needed to get this project off the ground. I look forward to seeing its success in my home borough of Brooklyn!” said Senator Schumer.

“Today’s libraries are dynamic and essential public spaces,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am delighted that this federal investment will help the Brooklyn Public Library bring its neighborhood communities into the process of program development. With this funding, Brooklyn Public Library will gain another tool for delivering the creative, innovative programming for which it is known.”

The ideas include:

Arlington Library

  • Electronic Classrooms Learning Center: Helps teens develop information literacy and gain the skills they need to become college and career ready. A partnership with Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

Carroll Gardens Library

  • Spring Fling!: A multi-week ballroom dancing program for older adults. A partnership with AMICO Eileen C. Dugan Senior Citizens Center.

Central Library

Clinton Hill Library

  • How Does Your Library Garden Grow: An outdoor gardening program that will build a garden from the ground up: students will design the plot, choose the plants and tend the plots as they sprout. A partnership with PS/MS 492 Academy of Arts & Letters, Library Committee.

Coney Island Library

  • The Music Fest: Brings together musicians from diverse ethnic groups to perform for the community of Coney Island at a free, live, filmed concert. A partnership with Brooklyn Streetcar Artists Group.
  • Coding for Kids: Free coding workshops for children 9—12, conducted by The Coding Space. A partnership with PS90 and PS188.

Cypress Hills Library

  • Future Leaders Career Awareness Series: Will help students develop research and soft communication skills while accessing free library resources for personal and professional development. A partnership with the City Year afterschool program at JHS 218.

DeKalb Library

  • Bushwick Acts Up: A 12-week drama workshop in which teens work alongside adults and older adults from the community to share stories and memories of Bushwick. A partnership with Brooklyn Acts.
  • Reading the Rhythm: A combination dance program and book discussion group to support literacy education and creative self-expression for local teens. A partnership with Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center.
  • Tracing Your Roots: A poetry workshop for teens to express their family’s journey to America and immerse themselves in the immigrant experience. A partnership with El Puente.

Dyker Library

  • Brooklyn Teens Breathe: Will teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques to young adults attending I.S. 201, to help young adults manage stress and other negative emotions. A partnership with IS201 – The Dyker Heights School.

Flatbush Library

  • Digging for Black Pride Urban Excavation Program: An in-school urban excavation research curriculum that will help students at the Erasmus School document the history of the community. A partnership with Erasmus School and Weeksville Heritage Center.

Flatlands Library

  • Illuminating Literacy: An illumination book-making program for school-aged students with low literacy levels. A partnership with the Morgan Library.

Highlawn Library

  • Family Literacy: Multi-week educational ESOL program to serve immigrant families. A partnership with IS 98 Seth Low.

Leonard Library

  • Girls Report Now!: The program will help girls identify things that are important to them and give them the skills to tell those stories to a wider audience, with guidance from journalist mentors from news outlets such as The New York Times, Yahoo, Elle, Fusion, Mic.com, and The Nation. A partnership with Fusion News.

Macon Library

  • Stepping Toward Excellence: A three-month college admissions series designed to give students practical and personalized training through the college application process. A partnership with Get Fit Fly Right.

New Lots Library

  • Raising Bars: A series of workshops designed to address the challenges faced by people adjusting to society after incarceration.
  • Root Resource:  Will help immigrants become licensed childcare providers while providing librarian-led training for early literacy. A partnership with Daycare Council of NYC.
  • Literacy for Life: A program for girls aged 12-16 that combines discussions about young adult fiction with coaching to empower youth who will develop long relationships with libraries. A partnership with Coach Kim.
  • Tasty Rainbow: A dietary program to help parents and children 5-11 adopt healthy eating habits. A partnership with BMH Health Care.

Saratoga Library

  • Next Generation Earth Stewards: Children will be introduced to the basics of sustainability and healthy eating in a series of eight classes led by environmental science instructors. A partnership with Superior Daycare, P.S. 45 Horace E. Green School  and the Horticultural Society of NY.

Sheepshead Bay Library

  • Bug-Eating Plants Take Sheepshead Bay!: Children will grow, learn about and interact with fascinating species of carnivorous plants. A partnership with Midtown Carnivores.
  • Russian Literature Club of BPL: A monthly program uniting and supporting Russian immigrant writers and poets, to help make sure their voices are heard. A partnership with Pushkin Society in America.
  • Tell US Your Immigration Story Project: Collects and archives personal immigration stories that are then shared with high school students to make them aware of their history and heritage. A partnership with Pushkin Society in America and the Lodyjensky Immigration Archive Center.

Washington Irving Library

Windsor Terrace Library

Children’s Literary Garden: A children’s literary garden that is filled with flowers and plants mentioned in works of literature, from Green myths to Shakespeare to The Secret Garden, and beyond. A partnership with GreenWorks Team.

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