Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book (Balcony Cases), Curated by the Brooklyn Collection

September 26, 2013 - February 2, 2014
Central Library, 2nd floor Balcony Cases
This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the Library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future, giving patrons a new perspective on a familiar place.

Booklists, flyers, and pamphlets from the Library’s ephemera collection, showcasing the small and varied efforts by librarians working behind BPL’s great gilt doors.

Unique in its development, Brooklyn Public Library began life as a library system devoted to the creation of strong branch libraries emphasizing neighborhood service. It was nearly 20 years after the creation of the present day Brooklyn Public Library that ground was first broken for the creation of a central building, and an additional 30 years before the building was completed. For decades, a single wing of the half-constructed building stood alone on Flatbush Avenue as political grappling, war and financial instability left the Library’s fate in question.

This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future. Covering everything from its early ill-fated design as a monstrous Beaux Arts confection to behind- the-scenes views of library work, this exhibition will give patrons a new perspective on a familiar place, from the golden screen above the doors to the hidden stacks deep underground.

1942 BPL Program CoverBalcony Cases
Brooklyn Public Library’s Central building has served as the backdrop for a dazzling array of cultural programs and exhibitions: from Rikers Island prison art to Hawaiian folk music, hardly any corner of American life has been left unexplored. On display in these balcony cases you will find numerous photos and handbills documenting Central’s role as a vibrant stage for such events. Included among these items you will also see internal memoranda regarding censorship issues swirling around the publication of Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, echoing a “Books on Trial” exhibit held here at Central. In addition to these lively artifacts, you will also discover a variety of materials created and preserved for the reading public, hand-made booklists as well as titles from the Hunt Collection of rare and beautiful children’s books chief among them.  You will also notice selections from some of Central Library’s special collections: rare and beautiful children’s books from the Clara Whitehill Hunt collection, as well as titles from the Halliday Civil War collection. Rounding out this peek into Central’s bookish life are the everyday ephemera of the librarian’s trade: stamps, stickers, call slips, and old library cards – many of which have become obsolete in our computer age.

Please visit the other Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book exhibition displays in the Grand Lobby, Foyer Cases, Lobby Gallery, and the Brooklyn Collection on the second floor at Central Library.

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