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Across the borough, Brooklyn Public Library is rehabilitating its vital neighborhood libraries with projects ranging from small restorations to full- scale renovations. The New Lots branch is being overhauled to modernize the library, address outdated infrastructure, better support the needs of the surrounding community and showcase its unique historic features.

At nearly 25,000 square feet distributed over three levels, New Lots is one of the largest BPL neighborhood libraries. The library’s second floor houses an Adult Learning Center—one of five in the BPL system—and an IdNYC location. Patrons of all ages flock to New Lots for its diverse offering of programs. Last year the branch had over 168,000 visits and hosted nearly 2,500 programs. Since the branch opened in 1957, only small upgrades have been made to physical infrastructure.

As a result, the library is outdated and has at least $6 million in outstanding capital needs.

A library overhaul provides an opportunity to reshape and potentially expand this branch for the patrons who rely on it now and future generations. With generous funding from Councilmember Inez Barron, BPL is seeking to highlight the historic significance of the library which is located on a once unacknowledged African burial ground containing the remains of enslaved people.

Through the branch’s overhaul, the library will create a new space that honors buried ancestors and celebrates African-American heritage.

A community engagement process led by Arts East New York and Hester Street will provide an opportunity for community stakeholders to discover, celebrate and build on the site’s rich history, as well as provide input on needs and desires for an updated library facility. Community input will directly inform the selected architect’s design direction and vision for the overhauled library.

The New Lots community engagement process will take place from summer through fall of 2019. The design and construction will take place between 2021 and 2022. In 2023, New Lots is scheduled to reopen and welcome patrons back to an overhauled space.


New Lots Library is badly outdated and has at least $6 million in outstanding capital needs. Beginning in 2021, the library will be overhauled to more comfortably accommodate its current and increasing patronage and add a space that celebrates African- American heritage in East New York.

Community engagement for the New Lots Library began in Summer 2019 and will continue until the end of 2019. Community input will inform the design process which is anticipated to begin in 2021. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021 and will last for approximately two years, during which the library will be closed. In 2023, the New Lots Library is expected to be complete and reopen to a space that is adequately equipped to accommodate library staff and patrons.

Bookmobile service will be provided close to the library and programs will be hosted at neighborhood organizations. Further information on the branch closure as well as off-site library programs hosted at partner locations will be shared before the branch closure.

Four years ago, Mayor de Blasio included $20 million in new funding in the city’s ten-year capital plan for five full BPL branch overhauls, one of which is New Lots Library. Additionally, Councilmember Inez Barron generously allocated $6 million in funds for this branch to add space that showcases African- American heritage.

Yes. A community engagement process conducted by Arts East New York and Hester Street in coordination with BPL and Councilmember Barron will deeply involve East New York residents in various forms:

  • Community events to get feedback and ideas on the programming and features of the renovated space and its unique history
  • Targeted activities with specific patron groups (i.e. youth and Adult Learning Center participants)
  • A report back session to present what we heard from the community


New Lots Library sits atop an African burial ground containing the remains of enslaved people. Neighborhood stakeholders, including Arts East New York and the office of Councilmember Barron in collaboration with Man Up! Inc and the New Lots Library worked to rename the area on Livonia Avenue between Barbey Street and Schenck Avenue. In 2013, the space became officially recognized as African Burial Ground Square.

Your input is important! The community engagement process for the library will begin in Summer of 2019. Please contact Naila Rosario at [email protected] org for additional information or to share your ideas.

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