More than a century after the institutions were founded, Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Children’s Museum have partnered on a new library for Crown Heights. Located on the Museum’s ground floor along Brooklyn Avenue, the branch ensures the presence of a public library in the neighborhood for generations to come. The new branch is a unique cultural resource for families in Central Brooklyn: visitors can check out books from the Library, enjoy collaborative programs and experience the Museum's collection.
The Need for a New Library
North Crown Heights was previously served by Brower Park Library, located one-and-a-half blocks from the Museum.
Opened in 1963, the Brower Park branch was the smallest public library in Brooklyn, yet it contributed significantly to BPL’s $240 million in unfunded capital needs, with necessary improvements—including a new roof, HVAC system and boiler—totaling $5.6 million. Brower Park was one of the Library’s few leased branches, owned by and subject to the interests of a private landlord. Purchasing the property to avoid the uncertainty of staying in a leased space would have cost the City an estimated additional $3 million and the process would have taken several years, compounding the amount needed to fix the ailing branch.
The Library’s partnership with Brooklyn Children’s Museum relieved BPL of over $8 million in unnecessary investments while building a similarly sized, but far more modern and comfortable, branch to serve the community. Co-locating in a City-owned building ensures an ongoing library presence for the neighborhood.
Financing and Building the New Library
BPL pays the Museum a rent equivalent to what it paid for its previous leased space. The design and build-out of the new library cost $6 million. The BCM and BPL raised funding from many souces, including the Office of the Mayor and the Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York City Council, and the Brooklyn Borough President. Before construction started in 2019, the Library worked with the Museum and Brooklyn-based architecture firm TsAO & McKown to gather public input for the library design. Construction was completed in 2023 and the branch opened on July 20, 2023.
The Brower Park Library is now housed on the ground floor wing of the Brooklyn Children's Museum, providing an updated and enhanced setting for our patrons. The library's separate entry vestibule along Brooklyn Avenue serves as the new access point for visitors.
Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by an outdoor reading terrace. Beyond the vestibule, the main reading room awaits, featuring a spacious layout with an information desk conveniently located in the center. The room boasts 14-foot ceilings, with ample seating for 24 adults and 16 young adults. Adjacent to the main reading room, there is a versatile 50-person community room equipped with AV equipment, a craft sink, and ample storage. This room also offers program flexibility through its movable partition.
Beyond the main reading room, the children’s room is accessed through a distinctive threshold adorned with vibrant colors and graphics designed to engage young minds. The dynamic children’s room is flourished with color and murals by a local artist and features multiple ceiling heights, lowered book stacks, nooks for reading & researching, group tables, and a theater proscenium for impromptu storytelling and play. The backdrop of the theater proscenium is a 12-foot window overlooking museum exhibit space.