Central Library Renovation

About the Renovation

Brooklyn Public Library is partway through its most significant renovation yet; within five years, nearly one-third of BPL’s system will be rebuilt or renovated. Central Library’s phased renovation will continue to fortify and modernize the historic building, making more areas accessible to its millions of users—all while retaining the original character that has made it an iconic New York City landmark.

With phase one of the project successfully completed in 2021, Central Library kicked off its next phase of design and construction activities in mid-2023. This phase will increase available public space in the building and provide dynamic new activity areas while maintaining the same amount of total building linear shelf space for our collections.

Current Project Phase, 2023–2027

Adult Learning Center:  After an extensive community engagement process with stakeholders,, our updated Center for lifelong learners will include dedicated collections, a state-of-the-art computer lab, a seminar room for courses and meetings, and flexible gathering spaces to create a welcoming environment. Until then, the Center is temporarily located on the third floor. 

Children’s Center: Our renovated youth wing will restore the space’s historic grandeur, while introducing informal playful gathering spots, interactive shelving displays, a technology center and reading nooks.

Teen Center: After surveying teens and gathering public feedback, this new dedicated space for young adults will feature two flexible multipurpose rooms, recording pods for music, podcasts and more, a gaming center for play and camaraderie, and new, expanded collections.

Collections: We will restore and refresh the Library’s collection areas—including their original historical elements—to increase functionality and provide inviting spaces to read, work and learn. Additionally, improved building signage will ensure patrons can find their way around with ease.

General updates: All renovated areas will receive full mechanical, plumbing and electrical upgrades. We will also upgrade our systemwide data center. Furthermore, we will restore Central’s current Trustees Room and new Trustees Suite, as well as the building’s exterior facades, historic windows and roof.


Upcoming renovation work will be phased (in order to maintain overall library operations) and is expected to be complete by 2027. We’ve continuously collected public input throughout the process, particularly regarding expanded program spaces and additional, inclusive and accessible areas for public use.

What’s Next?

The first area of the library to begin construction will be the current Art & Music collections wing on the third floor. These collections will remain available throughout the renovation – some will be available for browsing on the second floor and some will be temporarily stored in a staff-accessible space and may be requested at any time.

While this section of the library is being renovated, patrons are invited to explore the other spaces on the first and second floor for reading, browsing, and using computers. We also have meeting rooms in our Business and Career Center and Information Commons that you can book using your library card. In addition, patrons may visit any of our 62 branch libraries across the borough, including Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope or the historic Othmer Library at the Center for Brooklyn History which is known for its beautiful and quiet space; all are within just a few miles of Central Library.

Our Art and Music collections will ultimately be located in a beautiful new space on the second floor of Central Library.

Beyond 2027

As renovations progress, we will continue to improve Central Library to best serve the broader community. Our long-term plans include repurposing lower-level storage areas for public use, as well as connecting Central Library to Mount Prospect Park through an elevated outdoor garden. We look forward to your input to help shape the future of Central Library!

Phases that have already been completed, as of Summer 2021

Infrastructure: Updates to our elevators, restrooms, fire alarm systems and HVAC have given our patrons a more seamless, safe experience moving through the busy building.

Grand Lobby: We restored historic oak panels and replaced floors, lighting and exhibition cases, altogether creating a clean, bright and art-filled space to greet patrons.

Major Owens Welcome Center: We moved the information, check-out and returns desks to Central’s new main entrance, named for the beloved Central librarian and former Congress Member. We also modernized escalators for accessibility and durability.

New & Noteworthy: We incorporated a new first floor space to serve as a welcoming gateway into Central’s expansive collection.

Civic Commons: This new space, which houses our passport office and IDNYC, brings Central’s community services into one comprehensive area with an accessible Flatbush Avenue entrance. The space is also home to our public computer center, which was previously on the third floor.  

Business & Career Center: Now prominently located on the second floor, our expanded Business & Career Center is better able to provide supportive career and financial programming to patrons. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Was public feedback considered as plans were developed? 

Yes. From 2019-2020, Brooklyn Public Library, working with Hester St and Grain Collective, created large interactive community engagement opportunities in the library, online and through focus groups and engagement sessions. We shared plans and gathered extensive public input before embarking on the renovation process, particularly regarding program areas, and expanded, accessible areas for public use.  

Will Central Library close during the renovation? 

BPL will  renovate one collection space at a time (and one staff wing at a time) to ensure that Central remains open, operational and safe to visit. Though areas under construction will close as needed, we strive to avoid disruptions to public services and will continue offering clear and regular updates to patrons and supporters. 

Will BPL be eliminating any of its current collections as part of the project? 

No. Central Library’s collections will remain on site and available to patrons at all times. Less-frequently borrowed collections may be moved to a staff-accessible storage space but can be requested from a staff member at any time. 

How will the renovation be paid for? 

Dedicated funding has been vital to upgrading Central Library. The first phase of renovations had a $38 million budget, and the second phase has a budget of $89 million. Funding comes from a variety of sources including New York City and New York State, grant funding and private donors.  

Renovation Phase One Fast Facts
Much Needed Infrastructure Upgrades
  • 6 refurbished elevators
  • 4 new bathroom areas
  • Lighting, sprinkler and HVAC system updates
  • Preservation of Art Moderne features, including the Grand Lobby’s original wood paneling and terrazo flooring
  • Installation of check-out and return counters and a staffed welcome desk in the front lobby
Five Grand Spaces
New Library Entrance on Flatbush Avenue