Brooklyn Heights Library Weathers The Summer Just Fine

With the days shortening and the buzz of a new school year underscoring that summer’s end is near, BHB checked in on the Brooklyn Heights Library branch, whose hours the past three summers have been drastically curtailed due to a defunct air condition system.

On a recent balmy August weekday, the branch appears as active as ever. All the computer workstations are full, and the Business & Career Library appears to be well subscribed with an assortment of researchers taking in various periodicals and nap-takers.

“The summer so far has been very kind to us and the city as a whole,” reported Uldis Skrodelis, the Brooklyn Heights Branch’s Neighborhood Library Supervisor. “There has only been one day when the temperature was 91 degrees. This of course has been a great help in having reasonable conditions in the building.”

Library patron have to endure buzzing electric fans that populate every corner of the 50 year old building. They are a desperate attempt to cool an aging, poorly maintained facility whose obsolete HVAC system was never adequately maintained and is now deemed too expensive to repair.

Grady Ashley, who uses the library’s computers three times a week, has adjusted to the summer heat as well as the branch’s daily 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. schedule. “The hours are the only thing that I’m upset with. I have to come earlier, but besides that, I’m used to not having AC anyway.”

In spite of the new schedule, Mr. Ashley’s opinion hasn’t changed about one of the Brooklyn Public Library’s busiest branches. “I really like the library. It’s very convenient for me because I live a couple of blocks away. It’s never really crowded so there’s always access.”

Ann Kaiser, another regular library user, said that the lack of air conditioning has made the library “a little less pleasant. I’ve been out of town for more than a month so I was disappointed when I saw the hours.”

Admitting that “It’s hard to concentrate when you’re hot!” Ms. Kaiser added that “I need a quiet space and there’s so much construction [that] the cafés are not quiet. I was disappointed by the limited hours but I made sure that I dressed coolly.”

Ms. Kaiser expressed surprise when informed that the branch’s future was uncertain due to a proposed redevelopment of the site as a high-rise development.

“I had no idea [plans for the Brooklyn Heights library project] included a high rise. This action puts a public institution at risk.”

Nanda Moore, a summer intern at branch, was decidedly upbeat about her first experience with the Brooklyn Heights branch. “I just started working here for the summer and it’s amazing! Everybody’s friendly, the workspace is clean and nice.”

Not all patrons were so placid in their assessment of the branches changed hours. At 12:45 p.m. a BPL security officer began turning away patrons who attempted to enter, some of whom were taken aback by the unexpected schedule change.

“I personally have not experienced any conversations with the public about their dissatisfaction with our temporary summer schedule,” said Mr. Skrodelis, who then admitted “I’m sure [patrons] are looking forward to eventually having full hours.” The branch will resume its normal schedule (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) beginning October 1.

When asked about his experience with the branch’s summer hours, Ken Wasserman, toting a massive novel he had just borrowed, said: “It’s still workable but I don’t know why they can’t fix the AC.”

“I understand there’s development plans in the works because they won’t fix the air conditioning,” continued Mr. Wasserman. “That I oppose but it’s a nice local library that I really like.”

Mr. Skrodelis, the branch’s supervisor, said that “My conversations with our public have been ongoing, and, for the most part, concern [has centered on] the entire timetable of future developments and the location of a temporary library that would serve the community during the span of the proposed project.”

“Everyone—almost to a person—has said that libraries in general need more funding than they now receive from the City.”

Ms. Kaiser agrees that libraries are essential to the fabric of her Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.

“In Catalonia, at the turn of the 20th-century, the slogan was: ‘A library, a school and a telephone center within walking distance of every neighborhood.’ I’m a big believer in that.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Randazzo

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  • marshasrimler

    thank you. I am in the berkshires and have been visiting their local libraries which are well preserved in every town and are cathedrals to reading and learning. Maybe we should get some folks from up here who in the the library business to run the BPL.
    BPL is not in the library business it is in the real estate business.
    BPL leadership has to change

  • bethman14

    You think its appropriate to compare a library run by a small, wealthy community in the Berkshires to an urban library serving 2.5 million people, many of whom live in serious poverty?

    On behalf of the 99% of your fellow Brooklynites who don’t summer it the Berkshires and have to make due with our local libraries in Bushwick and Bed Stuy and East New York and Brownsville and Coney Island I plead with you to take a larger view of our borough’s libraries. Every library in Brooklyn should be a cathedral….not just in Brooklyn Heights. It takes MONEY to make that happen!

  • marshasrimler

    oh bethman
    you have serious anger issues.
    I think every library in Brooklyn should be a cathedral from brooklyn heights to bushwick. I have worked in poverty areas for years and years and do not need a lecture from you.. the folks that use the brooklyn heights branch come from all over brooklyn.. Have you been there lately.
    Marsha Rimler
    PS all human beings are entitled to a vacation and the berkshires have issues as well as brooklyn.. drugs, lack of opportunity ,, its just hidden

  • Lori

    Yes, if you count closing at 1 PM EVERY DAY THRU SEPTEMBER weathering the storm just fine.

  • Chubby Burkhardt

    Just an outside observation but why do you think a person has anger issues just because that person has a different opinion than you on a specific subject or makes a point contrary to your own?

  • marshasrimler

    she seems and sounds very angry to me.. you do not

  • Doug Biviano

    Yesterday I spoke at the Citizen’s Defending Libraries meeting and our message resonated loud and clear.

  • Doug Biviano

    NY1 debate tonight at 7:15 pm and 10:15 pm.

  • Prince Humperdink

    Can’t wait for the new library, with powerful air conditioning and a ton of condos atop! The sooner the better!

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    The whole of Brooklyn is no longer in the people and community “business” — it is in the real estate business.

  • marshasrimler

    true.. we can all turn ourselves into condos.. I myself think the appellate division would be a great condo.
    what a building.. we could fix every library in the boror with the $ and move
    the judges to new digs

  • marshasrimler

    will not happen i assure you

  • Prince Humperdink

    Just like Barclay’s arena will never happen, LICH will be there forever and condos will never rise in BBP. BPL condos, ground break now! #morebrooklyncondos

  • Doug Biviano

    NY1 debate

    Two segments, second best. Wait on same page for second part to load.

    We get our point across that our community has lost control of governing decisions like LICH, libraries and condos in park due to lobbyists and special interests that control elections and elected officials. The deception like LICH Dark Money Letter is very coordinated with campaigns and PACs is another point, in this case Sikora campaign with de Blasio’s One NY PAC and consultant Berlin Rosen.

  • marshasrimler

    How much u wanna
    Bet.. Their josh vp guy is gone. Gone

  • bethman14

    I’m not angry….just frustrated that Marsha and the rest of the anti-new library crowd resort to distortion, name calling and outright lies in order to scare people in this community. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to in the Heights who think the BPL folks are closing the library permanently, replacing it with an underground facility, etc etc etc. All of which is demonstrably false. Its sad that we can’t have a civil conversation about the merits of a project, work with the library to improve the design and build a great civic facility we can all be proud of….thats what makes me frustrated. The anti-library crowd are playing a cynical game and the poor library will be the victim in the end.

  • Reggie

    I’ll take that bet. Even odds? Who can hold the money? I would like to maintain my net-anonymity.

  • notonmywatch

    Odds are tough. This isn’t the state usurping zoning and back fitting documents to justify it.

    This one has some pretty easy to disprove statements by BPL management that are starting to come under fire.

    Really think it would take $4,800,000 to air condition 4 rooms?


  • Reggie

    marsha, perhaps you didn’t reply because I did not answer your question exactly. I want to bet $50. My earlier comment remains relevant.

  • marshasrimler

    Ok you are on