Book-end! Cortelyou library to close for renovations

Book-end! Cortelyou library to close for renovations
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Ditmas Park bookworms will have to schlepp to East Flatbush or Kensington to get their free fix this winter while the Cortelyou Road branch of the Brooklyn Public Library closes to install self-service machines and fix up its aging infrastructure.

The 27-year-old branch between Argyle and Rugby roads is shutting its doors on Oct. 15 for at least four months to replace the heating, ventilations and air-conditioning system, replace the boiler and install new duct work throughout the building.

And dependent locals said they don’t know what they will do without their library.

“I come here every day after school,” said Maxim Francos, 17, on Monday.

“I probably just stay home all day [while it’s closed].”

Others wonder where kids from the PS 139 next door.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic from the school, so that’s going to impact them,” said Samantha Kirton, of Midwood, a nanny. “Now that it’s getting cold out, it’s a good place for nannies to take their kids to hang out. There’s not much to do around here.”

But a spokesman said the closure is necessary to install self checkout machines at its branches, which will allow patrons to check out books without tying up staff.

“The self-check program is rolling along so there are some rolling closings [throughout the borough],” said Brooklyn Public Library spokesman Jason Carey.

Carey said the machines are not meant to replace human labor and there are no plans to lay off anyone at the Cortelyou branch.

“It helps to get people in and out fast so our staff can spend more time helping our customers find what they want,” he said.

But library closures in the borough have often taken longer than planned — a lot longer, in some cases. Park Slope’s library was originally set to be closed for 18 months, but library officials ended up stretching it to two years.

And the Fort Hamilton branch’s closure lasted three years — instead of 18 months, as planned — when termites were discovered in the building.

The closure comes as the Ditmas literati were planning on spending more time at their library, not less, after the announcement that 32 of the library system’s 60 branches would stay open longer.

Library officials scrambled to streamline services when the mayor’s budget threatened to chop more than $20 million from its $82-million allocation to Brooklyn’s library system, but the city restored all but $1 million of the funding, freeing up more funds to extend hours.