Coney Island Library now full of children, not water

October 30, 2013 Heather Chin
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One by one, Brooklyn’s Sandy-damaged libraries reopened, first in Gravesend, Brighton Beach, and Sheepshead Bay, then in Red Hook and most recently in Gerritsen Beach. Now, almost 12 months to the day after being flooded with five feet of water, the Coney Island Library reopened its doors, finally dry, clean, restocked and full of light, art and hope.

“Among our branches, the worst of the damage from Hurricane Sandy occurred at Coney Island Library,” said Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). “Since the storm, we have completely renovated the building, making it ADA-compliant, reconfigured the interior, created new meeting rooms and added new technology throughout. It has taken a tremendous amount of work, but today we are thrilled to welcome the Coney Island community back to their beautifully renovated neighborhood library.”

Design, reconstruction, equipment, and books cost $2.7 million, some of which were contributed by grants from the AIG Disaster Relief Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. The first floor had to be completely gutted and rebuilt, and the boiler, elevator, electrical and air/HVAC systems, plus books and furniture, were replaced.

Improvements include 10 new wi-fi-equipped computers for adults and four for children, two dedicated public spaces, two meeting rooms, colorful age-specific furniture and floor cushions, and staff workrooms, pantries and bathrooms.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was brimming with his trademark enthusiasm upon seeing the large, bright space at the grand reopening ceremony on Wednesday, October 23.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Coney Island Library is back and better than ever,” exclaimed the outgoing borough president. “This community hub [has been transformed] into a space that embraces Coney Island’s history and will stand to make our whole borough proud for generations to come.”

The Coney Island history Markowitz spoke of can be seen in the ceilings, which incorporated salvaged pieces of the Coney Island Boardwalk, as well as in a photo mural of historical Coney Island photos from BPL’s Brooklyn Collection.

The library, located at 1901 Mermaid Avenue, is open on weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Wednesday hours extending to 8 p.m.

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