A representative of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), with information about the new and exciting changes taking place at libraries, was the special guest speaker at the Marine Park Community Association meeting last month.
“We want everyone to come to the library and not be discouraged by late fees, so please come because there are no fees or late books anymore,” Juana Flores, Assistant Branch Manager and Children’s Librarian at the Midwood Branch, said. “For those who don’t know, we are about more than books; we are about information.”
Flores explained how their library card, either physical or digitally downloaded from an app, can be used in new ways to access free in-person and virtual programs, services and cultural institutions citywide.
With the use of your library card, you have access to a lot of museums and theaters for free,” she said. “All you need to do is use your library card, sign into the website, culturepass.nyc, and sign up for the days you want to go to the different events.”
The Central Library at Grand Army Plaza has major performances. An example is the Metropolitan Opera’s Magic Flute, a free show, which would cost a lot of money to see at the opera house.
For children, there is Story Time, pre-kindergarten and STEM programs, and collaborative labs where school-aged children can learn about science and technology.
Teens have different types of internships and programs. One is called The Library of Tomorrow. Teens can shadow librarians and at the end of the year, receive a stipend of $1,000 and credits toward community service.
At the Midwood Branch, The Teen Takeover is where teenagers take over the library after it closes. They have a council and come up with programs that are teen-driven.
The Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Kings Highway Branch serves as a safe haven for teens who come to gather in an out-of-school learning environment. They use 3-D printers, video equipment and a music studio to create their own music. They even have sewing machines so teenagers can learn how to sew.
“There are a lot of things that a library does. You would be surprised, right?” Flores said before she further described the offerings for adults and other populations.
The Business and Career Center at the Central Library helps with resume writing, developing a business plan and learning about different business opportunities for those who want to start and learn how to finance a business through their workshops.
For homebound older adults, they have Books by Mail. They also have audio books on CD and a large collection of eBooks, which are electronic books online for those who have a Kindle or any type of e-reader.
Forthose who are not tech savvy, they have beginners’ internet and smart phone information sessions with someone who instructs about the use of these technologies.
There are services for detainees or incarcerated individuals to connect parents to children through Tell a Story.
Citizenship classes are available for people who are immigrants, undocumented or have English as a second language.
Services vary at the different branches. There is one-on-one tax prep help at certain branches. Two branches have passport services not affiliated with the library, but the passport center is right at the library.
Flores mentioned the recent controversy over attempts to remove banned books from libraries and schools across the nation.
“As a library, we are against any type of censorship, so we created free banned books for everyone,” she said. Teenagers across the United States are able to have access to these books through an e-card.
The BPL Books Unbanned Initiative received an award from the Library Journal for their work to provide free eBook access to these books for teens and young adults nationwide.
Flores brought handouts about the various programs and a list of branches and hours for libraries near Marine Park that included Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Kings Highway and Midwood. Others mentioned were the Kings Bay and Mill Basin branches, but patrons are free to go to any of the available branches throughout the library system.
For additional information, visit bklynlibrary.org.