On May 6, 2021, BPL celebrated the completion of the first phase of the single largest renovation and restoration in Central Library’s 80-year history.
About the Renovation
Central Library is BPL’s flagship and most visited branch, serving as the foundation for the entire system. It is a hub to explore new ideas, pursue lifelong learning, access technology, and connect with the community at large. Carried out in partnership with internationally renowned Toshiko Mori Architects, the goals of the renovation are to:
- Reclaim and Optimize Public Areas
- Create Inspiring and Innovative Spaces
- Restore a Brooklyn Landmark
Construction began in April 2018 with a rehab of Central Library's front plaza. May 2021 marks the completion of the first phase of renovation , unveiling the new Major Owens Welcome Center, New and Noteworthy, Civic Commons, Business & Career Center and Grand Lobby spaces to the public. The second phase of renovation will begin in 2023.
Funding for the Project
BPL secured $60 million for the first phases of the renovation. $35M was allocated by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and $2 million from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Funding was also provided by NYS Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley, New York State Assembly Brooklyn Delegation, the New York State Education Department and the New York State Regional Economic Development Council.
Central Library will remain open, operational, and safe to visit throughout the construction process. Certain areas of Central Library may be closed at times during construction, but we will do our best to minimize disruptions to the services you rely on and expect.
First Phase: Completed May 2021
Phase one of the multi-phase redevelopment returns space formerly used for administrative needs back to the public, and create five grand spaces: the Major Owens Welcome Center, New and Noteworthy, Civic Commons, Business and Career Center, and the restored Grand Lobby. While closed to the public during the pandemic, the Interim Adult Learning Center has a new, temporary space for lifelong learning on the third floor.
Next Phase: Late 2023
Adult Learning Center: We’re building a new Adult Learning Center that will be nearly double in size. The design of the new space will incorporate feedback from current students, staff, and volunteers.
Teen Space: We’re creating a brand-new dedicated space where teens can create, discover, socialize, and learn. The design of the new Teen space will incorporate input from teens in order to best meet their social, and educational needs.
Refurbished Collections: We will restore and renovate the Library’s collection areas to increase functionality and provide patrons with inviting spaces to read, work and learn.
Later Phases: Beyond 2023
After making these short- and medium-term renovations, we will continue to push ourselves to improve Central Library to better serve the broader community. Long term plans include creating additional areas for public use by repurposing lower level storage areas, and connecting Central Library to Mount Prospect Park with an elevated outdoor garden. We look forward to your input to help shape the future of Central Library!
A community engagement process, conducted by Grain Collective and Hester Street in coordination with BPL, involved thousands of library users. Central Library and will continue to seek public input on the long-term plans for the building, particularly regarding strategies to create and program additional spaces for public use.
Major Owens was a community information librarian at BPL from 1958 through the late 1960s. He was known for placing BPL collections in public spaces such as laundromats, stores, bars and anywhere else people gathered. Later, Major Owens went on to represent Brooklyn neighborhoods in the House of Representatives.
Resources and Fact Sheets
- Central Library Renovation Fact Sheet (October 2019)