Bookworms in East Flatbush are in luck, as the Brooklyn Public Library’s Rugby branch reopened on Monday with a newly renovated space — finally completing a decade-in-the-making project to modernize the book emporium.
The library at Utica and Tilden avenues was built in 1957, and had been closed since 2017 as crews worked on a renovation, which had been in the pipeline since 2005. Initially pegged as a relatively modest interior renovation conducted by the Department of Design and Construction during the Bloomberg years, the project came to also include an overhauled HVAC system, new lighting and security systems, improvements to the building’s facade and garden, ADA accessibility upgrades, and a new antenna to boost the library’s wifi signal into the surrounding neighborhood.
The pricetag, once pegged at $1 million, ballooned to $10.2 million, with the project accruing more and more work as capital funding was freed up.
“We [are] overjoyed to open the doors of Rugby Library today and welcome the community! The new light-filled building includes distinct spaces for teens, adults and young children and an outdoor garden for the whole family to enjoy. And, we had patrons coming in as soon as we opened the door for business,” said Fritzi Bodenheimer, a spokesperson for BPL, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be able to present to the community a beautiful, modern, and bright library.”
The interior renovation includes a wall mural by local artist J. Mikal Davis, new furniture, shelving, and computers, and upgraded meeting spaces. Bodenheimer said that the renovated library makes use of sustainable materials such as recycled rubber and cork in the flooring, and bamboo in the ceiling and millwork, and system upgrades allow the library to use less energy and water. The reopened library also has a new collection of books to top it all off.
Library patrons had for the past four years been relegated to using a mobile trailer for library services while the building was undergoing renovation. Work on the renovation has hit a variety of snags over the past 16 years that have complicated and extended the project, with a lack of capital funding, a cascading list of fixes accumulating onto the work, contracting issues, natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and finally the coronavirus pandemic all causing delays at some point in the last decade-and-a-half.