Readers Can Book Library Again After Makeover
After 15 months of renovations, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last Thursday morning to mark the formal reopening of the Mill Basin branch of Brooklyn Public Library. Elected officials present included Councilman Lew Fidler, whose commitment and support led to securing appropriations for the project, and State Senator Carl Kruger, who were joined by Ginnie Cooper, executive director of Brook-lyn Public Library, Mill Basin Civic Association president Paula Whitney, Dr. Lucille Thomas, president of the BPL Board of Trustees, Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano and six students from Class 3-345 from nearby Public School 312.
The library, at 2385 Ralph Avenue near Avenue N, reopened on April 18 following a top-to-bottom $867,000 makeover that began in January, 2004 and included the installation of Ameri-cans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant rest rooms and entryways.
Fidler then criticized Mayor Bloom-berg for the 3 percent cutback in library funds in his latest executive budget, which could result in a reduction of operating hours for all borough libraries. The Mill Basin branch is currently scheduled to operate about 37 hours, Monday through Saturday.
“I’d like to see all libraries in my district to be able to operate six days a week,” Fidler said.
State Senator Carl Kruger presented Cooper with an American flag that had flown over the state capitol to fly over the library when it’s flagpole is restored.
Among the library improvements:
• A kiosk for the Access Brooklyn Card (ABC), a new multi-function library card that allows library users to access library account information, reserve time on computers, pay for printing and photocopying services, pay overdue fees and add value to their library debit card.
• Wireless service for fast and free Internet access.
• New flat-screen personal computers for adults, children and preschoolers.
• A cheerful First Five Years Reading Area for infants and pre-schoolers furnished with age-specialized, foam furniture suitable for the rumble tumble of youngsters’ play. It
is equipped with two computers, with special software for preschoolers. This cozy space also offers learning tools - such as puzzles and bead mazes - and a collection of videos, colorful picture books and sturdy board books. Free early literacy programs that incorporate books, songs, rhymes and imaginative play, like “Toddler Time,” will be available to the public.
Other features include: new ceiling acoustic tiles to soak up excess noise to create a more pleasant environment; new carpet in public areas with ceramic tiles around the circulation desk; renovated staff workrooms and public program rooms; new lights, paint and signage throughout; furniture designed for a modern library, including shelves, tables and chairs for public use and a circulation desk; entries and bathrooms that are wheelchair accessible.
The Mill Basin branch opened in a deposit station inside the Austin Pharmacy on Avenue T in 1940. It moved several times over the next three decades, with the need for more space eventually resulting in the library on Ralph Avenue. The library opened in 1974 in a 7,500-square-foot brick building.
In 1997, for the first time in the 100-year history of the Brooklyn Public Library a plaque was placed in one of its branch libraries to honor a local resident, Dorothy Russo, who led the Mill Basin Civic Association’s efforts to establish the library.
Today, the Mill Basin library caters to the needs of a diverse community with various programs and events, multilingual services and an active Friends Group.