Coney Island Library officials unveiled a newly renovated second floor on Tuesday, marking the completion of a multi-million dollar transformation of the branch spurred by Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the book emporium nearly a decade ago.
“Almost nine years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated this neighborhood and Coney Island Library,” said Brooklyn Public Library’s chief librarian, Nick Higgins, who hailed local Councilmember Mark Treyger for “securing funding to renovate the second floor, making the library whole once again, and a place for the community to enjoy for years to come.”
The branch saw extensive damage during the 2012 storm, with five feet of water flooding the ground floor and forcing library officials to replace furniture, plumbing, computer equipment, and countless books.
Now, just two years after they began construction in April 2019, book honchos officially cut the ribbon on the last phase of the branch’s overhaul on April 13.
While the borough’s book-lenders remain closed to the public due to the pandemic, Coney Islanders will have a suite of new amenities to enjoy at the Mermaid Avenue branch when it reopens — including an adult reading room, a designated teen space, and a multi-functional conference room available by reservation.
The formerly dilapidated second floor has been converted into a brighter space filled with natural light that utilizes an open layout, making the room easier to navigate, according to officials.
New tech upgrades include a laptop-lending locker that allows patrons to borrow a computer while inside the branch, as well as a new printer, two new desktops and a 65-inch flat-screen display that will show programmable content. The reading room’s tables feature USB ports to charge wireless devices.
The children’s section of the library has been transferred to the first floor to better accommodate strollers and to facilitate a larger space for the kids, Treyger previously told Brooklyn Paper during an exclusive tour of the library.
“This was an issue that we heard post-Superstorm Sandy, just the need to have a prioritized children’s space, and we responded to that and more,” said the pol, who represents Coney Island, as well as Gravesend, Bensonhurst and Seagate. “I think for parents, it’s a needed accommodation.”
The second floor’s new meeting room was refurbished with all new flooring, ceilings, lighting as well as other interior finishes and includes a retractable divider that can transition the room to suit smaller groups or larger meetings. Two automated projection screens were also installed for use during gatherings, and a new rooftop HVAC system will make the room more comfortable.
Treyger allocated $620,000 of City Council funding to the $1.7 million project, which was met with funds from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office, the Brooklyn Public Library and other private donors.
“I look forward to the new chapter that awaits the Coney Island library,” Treyger said in a statement. “It is a neighborhood resource center that so many of our residents rely on, and it will be a major quality of life improvement for our community to have a state-of-the-art facility to enjoy.”
Coney Island Library is currently restricted to grab-and-go lobby service for patrons to pick up or return books and get help with their library card and is also providing an extended 24/7 WiFi signal that can reach up to 300 feet from the library.
Once the library is allowed to reopen fully, Treyger said, the new features will greatly benefit patrons in a range of sectors.
“Once it opens, the new technology and upgraded lounging space will be an asset to locals. The need here is greater than it’s ever been,” he said.” In terms of education, in terms of adult education, preparation for the workforce, our residents will have the resources they need to achieve success.”