Walt Whitman Library Renovation

Walt Whitman Library will undergo a comprehensive renovation to better meet the needs of the neighborhood.

Brooklyn Public Library is collaborating with Belmont Freeman Architects to renovate the branch—including internal space allocations, systems and the exterior landscape—in order to make Walt Whitman Library a modern, friendly and accessible facility. This renovation is possible thanks to a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, capital allocations from Council Member Crystal Hudson and the City of New York, as well as proceeds from the redevelopment of Brooklyn Heights Library.

Inside, the library's interior public space will be expanded by 40%. Outdated systems will be upgraded, including the heating and cooling system and IT networks. In addition, each of the branch’s three levels will be reconfigured to create a more welcoming environment. Outside, changes to the grounds of the library will include friendly landscaping and a new outdoor program space. ADA upgrades will happen both inside and outside the library.


The renovated interior space will feature:

  • A glass-enclosed staircase extending from the basement to the mezzanine level
  • Twin mezzanine balconies, one for staircase and elevator access and the other furnished as a quiet reading area 
  • A glass-enclosed Teen Room
  • An elevator extended to the mezzanine level for increased ADA accessibility
  • A staircase serving the basement, opening to a more generous elevator lobby, which will provide smoother access to the Community Room and meeting room
  • A glass skylight to allow more natural light into the Community Room
  • An expanded staff work area
  • New public restrooms and staff restrooms


The renovated exterior space will feature: 

  • An outdoor sitting area in front of the building
  • A more accessible entrance ramp
  • Outdoor reading garden accessible via a new door at the back
  • Staff parking area to double as a flex space for community events
  • New garden sheds featuring repurposed bas-reliefs from the old Brooklyn Heights Library

The first step in this renovation was hearing from you: in partnership with Belmont Freeman Architechts and Hester Street, BPL engaged the Fort Greene community and Walt Whitman Library patrons on their thoughts on how Walt Whitman Library can better serve the neighborhood in 2022. View the final report here.


Walt Whitman Library’s renovation will begin with community outreach. Look for ways to contribute your thoughts to the renovation throughout Spring 2022. In Summer 2022, BPL will share back what we’ve learned. Right now, the construction schedule is only an estimate: we expect construction to start in Winter 2023 and to reopen in Summer 2025. After the design of the renovation is complete, we will share more accurate construction timelines.

Walt Whitman Library will temporarily close for this comprehensive renovation. During the construction, library staff will maintain a presence in the community through local partnerships, including hosting library programs around the neighborhood.

Brooklyn Public Library has secured $9 million to fund this project. Sources include the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the New York City Council and Council Member Crystal Hudson, the City of New York, and proceeds from the redevelopment of Brooklyn Heights Library.

Yes. A community engagement process was conducted by Hester Street in coordination with BPL and Belmont Freeman Architects and involved community members and library stakeholders. Throughout Spring and Summer 2022, this team held community workshops, surveys and focus groups. View the final report here.


Brooklyn Public Library is collaborating with Belmont Freeman Architects to renovate Walt Whitman Library.

Picture of Walt Whitman Library with the text: Walt Whitman, It's Time for a Change