Closing the book lender: Coney Island library to shutter for four months starting in April

Closing the book lender: Coney Island library to shutter for four months starting in April
File photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Coney Island branch will close for four months this spring and summer to undergo more than $1-million worth of renovations, reading-room leaders announced this week.

The construction will result in a larger space that will provide locals with even more room to kick back and relax with their favorite titles, according to regional librarian Sharron Lahey.

“Because it’s going to be a more flexible and bigger space, I think we’ll have more opportunities for more members of the community to come and use our space,” Lahey said at a Feb. 11 meeting of the local Community Board 13’s Education and Youth Committee.

The two-story, more than century-old library on Mermaid Avenue at W. 19th Street will fully shutter for approximately 120 days on April 1, when workers will begin asbestos abatement and demolition work, according to Lahey.

Contractors will then renovate and expand the branch’s second-floor meeting room, and install a new heating-and-cooling system in that space.

The makeover will also transform the library’s second floor into a tech hub with more than 20 laptops, which locals will be able to borrow, and additional electrical outlets, among other features. And redesigning that floor will allow librarians to turn the branch’s entire first floor into a dedicated children’s space, according to library spokeswoman Fritzi Bodenheimer.

Reading-room leaders hope the first-floor transformation will be done by August, and plan to reopen that level to patrons while contractors spend the next five months polishing off the second floor, according to Lahey, who said the upper story’s work should wrap by early 2020 at the latest.

Staffers will continue to host the library’s regular family and kids programming — including its weekly story-time and homework-help sessions — at the neighborhood YMCA and Jewish Community Council, and at local day-care centers and schools, during the facility’s four-month full closure, Lahey said. But the branch’s monthly adult-media classes hosted by arts-and-culture organization Bric will be suspended until the entire renovation is complete, she said.

And patrons looking for a good book during the full closure can visit one of the library system’s bookmobiles, which will park outside the Coney branch twice a week when the facility is off limits to locals, according to Lahey.

“Unfortunately there are going to be some pain points because we’re closed for four months, but we’re going to do our best to have staff work out in different community organizations and in the schools,” she said.

The People’s Playground branch last closed in 2012, when it shuttered for a year after superstorm Sandy flooded the building with five feet of water, requiring more than $2 million to replace plumbing, flooring, computers, electrical wiring, furniture, and thousands of books. But that cash only paid for renovations to the first floor, Lahey said.

Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) and Borough President Adams together allocated a little more than one million dollars towards the forthcoming renovations’ total $1.4-million cost, according to Bodenheimer, who said the rest of the money required for the project came from city capital funds and a private donor, and that most of the funds will be spent renovating the second-floor meeting room.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.