Brooklyn Heights Library Closing Tomorrow; Interim Facility Opens Wednesday

Say goodbye to the 1960s vintage Brooklyn Heights branch of Brooklyn Public Library, and to those bas reliefs on the facade that, when I first saw the building, made me think it was a 1930s vintage WPA project (and thereby made me like it). That impression was corrected when I went inside and entered the stairwell with walls covered in turquoise mosaic tiles, almost perfectly mimicking that in the 1960s vintage University Center building of my undergrad alma mater, the University of South Florida.

We’ve received notice from the BPL website that the library, at 280 Cadman Plaza West, will close tomorrow (Tuesday, July 26) at 8:00 p.m. An interim library, to serve until a new library at the site of the old one opens, will open at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, July 27, in the social room of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, 109 Remsen Street (between Henry and Clinton). According to the BPL, “[a]ll current branch programs will be offered in the interim location.” In addition, “[i]f you encounter any difficulties with picking up materials on hold, please contact us at 718-623-7100 during business hours to make alternate arrangements.”

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  • mpierce

    Follow us on Facebook
    The imminent opening of the interim library
    in a Church building fails to take into account
    the issue of censorship. In News 12 interview
    Church Bishop when asked about this was
    quoted as saying: “as long as their not
    promoting anything outrageous, we’ll
    accommodate them”. Will that include
    abortion, gay rights or birth control.
    So far no responses from either BPL
    administration or Church.
    Why has City still not signed off on sale of
    Library? Could that be due to current
    Federal probe into sale of Library to a
    Pay to Play favored developer?
    BPL has been citing lack of funding
    for needed repairs to many other libraries
    yet takes a lower price for this very valuable
    city owned land?
    So many questions, and so few answers.
    Accountability seems to be a missing factor
    when government over rules the wishes of
    the majority of local residents.
    Over 2 thousand signed petitions sent to Eric
    Adams. Most signed in front of the Library.
    Are the needs of the few more important than
    those of the many?

  • Jane

    When does work on the new library begin?

  • marilyn berkon

    The sad news has finally arrived. We are losing our treasured library that has served many thousands from Brooklyn Heights and all neighboring districts and beyond, throughout Brooklyn and even into Manhattan. The building itself is solid and strong, designed by the famous architect Francis Keally, who also built Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. The bas reliefs decorating its entrance are by the renowned Italian sculptor Clemente Spampinato. The building was completely renovated, rewired and updated for modern technology just 23 years ago. It may need some repair for its HVAC, but the BPL, which has the funds, and the city, flush with funds, refused to do that repair since they needed an excuse to sell the library to a private developer. There is clear evidence that David Kramer, head of Hudson Companies, gave two quid pro quo contributions to his friend, Mayor de Blasio, in return for getting his low bid accepted to demolish our library and construct a luxury condo over 400 feet high. Beneath that will be a replacement library less than half the size of ours. It will no longer give us the abundance we have now, nor will it have the room to accommodate the thousands it once did. Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library, states publicly that she regards libraries as real estate. The public will suffer an irretrievable loss, while the developer will revel in his billions. But the developer is stealing from the public. Quid pro quo donations get wealthy people what they desire, and Mayor de Blasio is happy to benefit from them. Today’s NY Post reveals that LICH, which the mayor pretended to protect during his campaign, is also included in a quid pro quo donation to de Blasio. He pretended to protect our libraries, too, during his campaign. But it was only pretense. David Kramer knew how to get what he wanted, and de Blasio was glad to oblige. Now we will no longer have a real, full-size library, and we will suffer through 4 years of toxic construction emissions, rats and vermin, noise, and nightmarish traffic jams. We must continue to fight against this corruption.

  • Claude Scales

    When you state “[t]here is clear evidence that David Kramer…gave two quid pro quo contributions” do you know for a fact that there was a quid pro quo? Has this been established in court? I raise this issue because your statement could be considered libelous, and a Terms of Service violation.

  • rss

    This is very sad. Though not the most up to date library, it served its purpose. Sad to see those bas reliefs go. I doubt very much that a social room in a church will suffice, even in the short term.

    I must say, however, claiming that it was renovated for modern technology 23 years ago is not a selling point. Nor is the fact that it’s been closed because of air conditioning problems for large swatches of the past few summers. It completely stinks that the city did not address that problem. It seems pretty clear they had ulterior motives.

    I hope we don’t get a rebuild similar to the Donnell library in midtown. Very slick, very mod, and very few books on the shelves. A nice place for office workers to eat lunch. But some of us still like to browse the stacks.

  • Concerned

    Eh. If there were actual contributions, I’d say that the “quid pro quo” portion of Ms. Berkon’s post would fall under the opinion defense of libel. Moreover, Mr. Kramer seems like a good candidate to be considered a “public figure” under the defamation laws, which would mean that Ms. Berkon would have to be proven to be acting with actual malice in a libel case. So, respectfully, I think you’re good. But it’s your blog, my friend. Be well.

  • marilyn berkon

    Yes, there is evidence of two quid pro quo payments from David Kramer to de Blasio regarding the Brooklyn Heights Library project. The US Attorney General was informed, so that these would be included in his investigations of other quid pro quo donations to de Blasio from different developers regarding their building projects. For example, today The NY Post revealed that de Blasio, who pretended to be protecting LICH, accepted a quid pro quo on the hospital project. During his campaign he pretended to be a protector of libraries and hospitals. After his election he was one with the developers. I am certainly not acting with malice when I report this here; I am simply stating facts that people can easily read for themselves. They are not secret. Developers who give donations to an official while their application to build is still pending are committing an unethical action. Whether unethical is illegal must be determined after the appropriate investigation. I have no idea whether Kramer’s donations to de Blasio would be considered illegal. That remains to be seen. But they are unethical.

  • B.

    Oh, don’t be silly, Mr. Scales. This is a blog. Besides, Ms. Berkon’s opinion on this blog is based on information that, from what I understand, the library committee gathered after much research and many telephone calls.

    The fact is that too many of our politicians, developers, and prime movers engage in unethical behavior that often just skirts the illegal.

    Sometimes, their maneuvers are illegal.

    In my old neighborhood, for example, a developer erected an apartment building that overstepped its allowed boundaries. (And never mind that the structure is completely out of keeping with the one- and two-family homes on that block and on the surrounding blocks.) In a meeting he told the dozens of neighbors who had gathered to fight his project that whatever fine he had to pay was part of the cost of doing business, and he’ll pay it.

    My mother was at that meeting, and she heard him say it. She told me.

    At least he was being honest.

  • gatornyc

    Ms. Berkon, you realize that other developers that bid on the project made contributions to de Blasio and were not awarded the project. So how is it that you deem Hudson’s contribution to be a quid pro quo?

  • marilyn berkon

    We don’t even know the names of the other bidders, except for Toll Brothers. We do know, from evidence you can read in a NY Post article, that the Feds are investigating the library deal. The BPL is trying to excuse their unethical behavior, claiming that Kramer was chosen for other reasons in spite of his lower bid. But we know that the BPL does not give the public the truth about anything regarding this deal. You can find the article on Google. NY Post, May 22, 2016. “Feds, DA probe de Blasio’s $52M deal to turn library into condo.”

  • Robert Perris

    I was told today that the reliefs will be removed from the exterior building, with some to be incorporated into the new neighborhood branch library and (a) home(s) found for the others, with the Brooklyn Museum given as an example of a possible destination.

  • Claude Scales


  • B.

    The Brooklyn Museum!

    Look what it has done with other priceless architectural fragments in its collection: They are alongside the parking lot, lying on rotting palettes.

    The Brooklyn Museum, once a world-class institution with curators worthy of the name, gave collections away, put others into storage, fired the curators and hired publicity people instead, and now has nothing much to attract visitors. The Met is stuffed to the gills, and the Brooklyn is not; and that’s not because people don’t visit Brooklyn.


  • Andrew Porter

    Just because it’s a blog—and, by the way, it’s run by Claude Scales—doesn’t mean you can post libelous information. This would violate the terms of use here, and on Disqus.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    That’s the very essence for “pay to play” – wanna be considered for gov’t business? Make your contribution and then do the paperwork. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that bigger checks put you closer to the starting gate. For now, the Buffalo billion makes diBlasio’s thievery look small-time, but they are of a piece – the sale of the BPL branch is worthy of a banana republic – where someone’s brother-in-law matters more than the populace.
    Of course, the BHA and local pols are the real villains, because they didn’t even pretend to guard the henhouse when the wolves or foxes raided it. How LICH plays out will be interesting – IS THERE enough money (and are they prepared to write big checks to this or that pol?) in Cobble Hill and the S. Heights to turn the tide on this one? Just as the BPL was co-opted re the Cadman Branch, now the BBP bureaucrats are being squeezed by folks who make the ultimate threat of replacing 2-3 well-paid non-profit biggies with people even more spineless.