Paerdegat Library Reopens After Emergency Closure
By Neil S. Friedman
Some local readers were elated Monday afternoon when the Paerdegat Branch Library reopened after being closed six weeks for exterior emergency repairs.
When the library at 850 East 59 Street opened its doors at 1 p.m., approximately half a dozen residents walked in to use the branch’s 55,000 books and periodicals, hundreds of videos and audio books and personal computers.
Evelyn Lutsky, who lives within walking distance, has been a regular visitor to the library for the last five years, said she was once again glad to have the convenience of the branch just down the block from her home on East 53 Street. "I come here to use the computers since I don’t have one at home." She said while the local branch was closed, she traveled to a public library on Flatbush Avenue.
Tommy Martin, 27, a nearby resident, who’s been using the Paerdegat library since he was in elementary school, said, "I’m glad it’s open again."
Valerie Geiss, a spokesperson for Brooklyn Public Library, said that State Assembly Member Helene Weinstein was instrumental in securing funds for the branch’s construction, furnishings and equipment.
Weinstein told the Canarsie Courier this week, "I am extremely pleased to have secured the funds for the Paerdegat Library. I have fond memories of using the original library when I attended public school in Canarsie…I am delighted the renovated branch will provide another generation a new world of learning and en-joyment."
The Paerdegat library closed May 3 for a $250,000 overhaul and reopened October 6. Last month when construction of an adjacent two-story medical facility caused a cave-in that damaged the sidewalk at the branch’s emergency exits, the branch was temporarily closed because of the potential danger while repairs were made.
The renovation means a more comfortable space for patrons, and includes: more computers; new networking equipment with data infrastructure; new lighting and flooring; a newly designed circulation desk and work counter for greater efficiency and improved service; new book shelves for adult and children’s areas; new furniture throughout including tables and chairs for patrons to read and research, and new desks for staff; new reference stands for key reference and popular books such as atlases, dictionaries and new paperbacks. The allocation also provides for a new book-theft detection system and a digital security system to better protect collections.
Ianthee Williams, the Paerdegat Branch librarian, said, "We were forced to close, but we tried to minimize the inconvenience, which we know is important to the community."
There are several other nearby branches, including the Canarsie branch on Rockaway Parkway, the Jamaica Bay branch on Seaview Avenue and the Mill Basin branch on Ralph Avenue. The latter is currently closed for renovations.
Paerdegat Library began in 1950 when community volunteers opened a small library in an abandoned Glenwood Projects laundry building and received rotating blocks of books from Brooklyn Public Library. How-ever, it soon became clear that the growing population needed its own full service library. BPL and the community worked together, and on July 11, 1963, a new building opened at the current address. The branch is named for the Paerdegat ("horse gate" in Dutch) Basin, a one-mile long, channel which empties into Jamaica Bay.
The Paerdegat Library offers recreational, educational and informational resources to an average of 70,000 visitors per year. The branch’s hours are: Monday, 1-6 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 am-6 pm; Wednesday, 1-8 pm; Thursday, 1-6 pm, and Friday 1-6 pm.