Cortelyou Library in Flatbush reopens after six-month makeover

A look inside of the newly remodeled Cortelyou Library.
Photo by Jada Camille

Bookworms, rejoice!

On the first day of school, the Cortelyou branch of the Brooklyn Public Library welcomed patrons back after temporarily closing its doors for renovations.

The 38-year-old community hotspot on Cortelyou Road closed six months ago to undergo a facelift. While the skeleton of the library remains unchanged, Flatbush residents can expect to find a complete interior remodeling.

At its Sept. 13 reopening, a crowd of children in school uniforms bustled in to see the freshly painted walls, shiny linoleum floors, and brightly colored books placed on new shelves. Renovations also included a new teen area, as well as energy-efficient lighting.

Linda Johnson, CEO of the library system, believes the improvements will make the book-lender a place of ingenuity.

“We like to have libraries that are not only warm in the winter and cool in the summer…but that are inspiring,” Johnson said. “I’m happy that we could deliver one that is so uplifting and cheerful.”

The outside of the brach.Photo by Jada Camille

The branch’s staff worked alongside Friends of the Library, a local volunteer group, to raise a total of $40,000 to supplement a $250,000 state grant. According to BPL spokesperson Fritzi Bodenheimer, the estimated cost of renovation was roughly $290,000.

“It was a great partnership because the state paid for a lot of the infrastructure work and the friends were able to cover things the state grant wouldn’t have covered like these chairs,” said Mike Fieni, BPL’s director of community engagement.

Assemblymember Robert Carroll, who represents parts of Flatbush, joined Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, where he thanked the group of staff members, fundraisers and parents gathered in front of the library.

“It was so wonderful to see that this branch has been renovated and made so much better because of all of your work and commitment,” Carroll said.

Books line brand new shelves inside the branch.Photo by Jada Camille

With Flatbush residents eager to get back into borrowing from their local branch, library staffers hope the reopening will symbolize some level of “normalcy” for locals.

“With kids going back to school, the natural rhythm will start to resume some level of normalcy and I want to make sure we’re here for our communities,” said Johnson.