Replacement air conditioners break the heat at Sunset Park Library

August 14, 2014 Heather Chin
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The Sunset Park Library is again a cool place to be thanks to the arrival of four replacement air conditioning units (AC) for the main reading room. The units arrived on July 31—a day early—to replace the units which broke on July 7.

This is good news for the incredibly busy and popular library branch, which had to close three times for a total of five-and-a-half hours, and some residents are hoping that the library will get more support in the near future.

“The portable cooling solution will keep the branch well-cooled for the foreseeable future, as BPL continues to work through a longer-term plan,” said Emma Woods, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL).

“Very few things had to be changed due to the loss of air conditioning,” noted branch manager Roxana Benavides, who explained that some programs simply moved downstairs to the children’s reading room and Workforce Training Center, where the AC was still working.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca was more circumspect, stating that “it is troubling that this important community resource had even one day of unbearable temperatures, but this is also a great example of what happens when the community uses its voice and engages with our district office in times of need or crisis.”

Speaking out is something that Jovita Sosa Vergara and several fellow parents and community members, along with Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, said they will continue to do on behalf of their library. At an August 1 rally in front of the library, at 51st Street and Fourth Avenue, the group held up signs and spoke about the need for more computers and educational programs, as well as how wonderful a second floor would be.

“The purpose of the rally was to draw attention to several issues, the obvious one being the AC not working for over a month, but also the general lack of importance given to our community,” said Sosa Vergara, a local homeowner and mother of three young sons who regularly use the library.

“There was talk of potentially building housing above the library,” she recalled. “How can housing be considered if the library is falling apart and isn’t a fit for our community?”

Sosa Vergara noted that “the children’s reading area is small, given the size of our population and [computers] are always busy, and the electrical system is so outdated that it took a month to install temporary AC units that block book shelves.

“[The city] wants to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our neighborhood to make it trendy, forgetting about the residents who have called Sunset home their entire life,” she said. “Give the library one percent of that!”

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