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Brooklyn Public Library takes part in effort to preserve local history

February 2, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Culture in Transit, a new program designed to help preserve neighborhood history throughout the city, is sponsored in part by Brooklyn Public Library. Photo: Gregg Richards/ BPL

Brooklyn Public Library is partnering with Queens Library and the Metropolitan New York Library Council in an effort to preserve neighborhood history throughout the city.

The three library systems will sponsor Culture in Transit, which is designed to provide digitization equipment and expertise to smaller libraries and community organizations in an effort to help neighborhoods define and catalog their histories. 

In addition to digitizing institutional archives, Culture in Transit will help New Yorkers to preserve their own historical memorabilia, which they may then share in local collections and submit to the Digital Public Library of America for online accessibility.

Ivy Marvel, manager of special collections for Brooklyn Public Library, said, “Culture in Transit will democratize the digitization process and preserve valuable artifacts of New York City’s heritage that might otherwise be lost.”

Brooklyn Public Library presents cultural heritage artifacts from its own collections and those of partner institutions through the Brooklyn Visual Heritage digital collection portal. The system also maintains the Brooklyn Collection, which includes historic Brooklyn maps, photographs, prints, the full run of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and other items.

Culture in Transit was selected as one of 22 winners of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries. The challenge sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, funds library projects that build more knowledgeable communities and encourage innovation, creativity and education. 

“There is a growing demand for libraries to evolve their role and become more dynamic, living platforms, responsive to community needs,” said John S. Bracken, vice president for media innovation for the Knight Foundation.

Since 2007, the Knight Foundation has reviewed more than 10,000 News Challenge applications and provided nearly $50 million in funding to 133 projects.

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Brooklyn Public Library is the fifth largest library system in the United States, with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all residents, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers.

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