Rebuilding Brooklyn's Libraries

One of Brooklyn Public Library’s most important functions is to provide accessible and inspiring spaces open to all. Due to the Library’s aging infrastructure and insufficient funding, some branch buildings not only struggle to accommodate modern uses but suffer from broken mechanical equipment and leaky roofs. Several years ago, BPL announced that it had over $300 million in unfunded repair needs and asked city government to help close the gap so all Brooklyn residents have access to modern, fully-functional library buildings.

With support from City and State elected officials, BPL is now entering one of the largest periods of rebuilding in its history and has reduced its unfunded repair needs to $240 million. Over a third of the libraries in the BPL system have recently been or will be replaced or overhauled. For the buildings that aren’t currently slated for major overhauls, BPL is concentrating on modernizing mechanical systems, refreshing interiors and making them accessible, updating indoor and outdoor signage, and transforming community rooms.

What is a capital project?

A capital project is a large, long‑term physical investment in a library, like a new heating/cooling system or an interior renovation. When funded through the City, capital projects must cost at least $50,000 and meet other standards set by the New York City Comptroller's office. Capital projects take years to build, and because of their costs, can also take years to fully fund.

Who funds capital projects?

Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Council, Borough President Eric Adams and the New York State Legislature fund capital projects at libraries. Grants and private donations have been used as the primary funding source and to supplement government funding on capital projects. The proceeds from the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Library provided an additional $50 million toward capital projects.

Who manages library capital projects?

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is the City’s primary capital construction project manager and oversees most library construction projects. DDC estimates that a new building will take approximately seven years to complete; a renovation will take approximately three years to complete.  On some projects, Brooklyn Public Library receives permission from the City to manage capital projects directly. 

Highlights of Recently Completed Projects
Major Capital Projects

Get updates on library capital projects with a budget of $3.5 Million or more.

Visit the Capital Tracker