The Canarsie Library has been serving the community for over a century. It opened in 1909 and moved to its present location at 1580 Rockaway Parkway in 1960. The Brooklyn Public Library is renovating some of its branches over the next five years, and Canarsie Library is one of the branches that will undergo extensive renovations. The City of New York is providing up to $20 million for the renovations, and the Canarsie Library, which has outgrown its current space, wants your input on what a newly imagined library should look like.
A Community Workshop was held at Canarsie Library on Tuesday, July 12th, where residents and library patrons had the opportunity to share their bold ideas with Hester Street, an urban planning, design and community development nonprofit, and the library’s community engagement consultant.
Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, a supporter of the library, was also in attendance and is providing funding of $1.5 million for the remodel. She spoke of the importance of the library and said that it should be a welcoming place for the community. As her home library, she said she spent a lot of time at Canarsie Library when her children were younger. Speaking on behalf of her constituents, Narcisse said she would like to see a second floor added to the facility as well as a music space for youth.
Approximately 20 patrons, not including library staff that was in attendance, sat at tables of approximately six people, where they discussed their ideas for improvements not only to the library’s physical space but also to its programs and resources.
Most were in agreement that the library should have designated areas for adults and children, as well as more closed rooms. A spokesperson for one table said they would like to see dedicated trained staff for children 18 and under since their needs are different, while another patron said they would like to see computer literacy programs for seniors.
The outdoor garden and community space is very popular, and patrons would like to see that expanded, as well as the entire library transformed into a more environmentally-friendly space.
Community activist Harold Jones said he would like to see more bright lights in the library and said that another floor was an absolute necessity.
Hester Street’s Project Associate Kami Beckford took note of all the suggestions and said they would be returning in September for another workshop. Residents who missed the workshop are invited to do an online survey and learn more about the library renovation at bklynlib.org/Canarsie.
The Canarsie Library will be closing in late 2023, for an 18- to 24-month renovation.