Library unearths its trove of Coney collectibles

Library unearths its trove of Coney collectibles
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Dig through some buried historical treasures.

The Brooklyn Public Library is unearthing some Coney Island artifacts from its archives for a presentation that will explore the beach-side neighborhood’s past 50 years of history.

The institution will show off old films, photographs, posters, postcards, and other People’s Playground paraphernalia from its collection at the Central Library on May 20. The show and tell will focus not just on the objects themselves, but also what they tell us about the periods they were created in and the people that valued them, said an organizer.

“The types of artifacts really reflect the activities in any space,” said Ivy Marvel, the manager of special collections at the Brooklyn Public Library. “You have stuff like the ticket stubs of the carnival ride, the everyday activity.”

The displays will include movies from the 1960s shot with 16-millimeter film, photographs of Sodom by the Sea in the 1970s — when many of the amusement rides were in a state of disrepair — and documentation of Hurricane Sandy, according to Marvel, who said the library saved newspapers and interviewed survivors of the storm.

Marvel said that Library staff will also discuss how they go about documenting and collecting these historical items.

“The point isn’t just to talk about the history,” said Marvel, who lives in Crown Heights.

The event is the second part of a collaborative series between the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Historical Society. The society — which hosted an event to display its own Coney collection on May 13 — is home to many artifacts from Coney Island’s early days, and the two shows combined represent more than 320 years of the neighborhood.

And Marvel said the Library is always collecting new items for its archives, making sure it holds onto a wide range of resources — both extraordinary and ordinary — for future generations.

“We kind of are scavengers in our everyday life,” she said. “We can be a bit more intentional in the things we collect, rather than seeing what stands the test of time.”

“Brooklyn Collecting Brooklyn: Coney Island” at the Central Library (10 Grand Army Plaza near Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights,www.brooklynhistory.org). May 20 at 6:30 pm. Free, but reservations recommended.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.