Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book (Lobby Gallery), Curated by the Brooklyn Collection

September 26, 2013 - February 2, 2014
Central Library, Lobby Gallery
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.

Selections from the Brooklyn Collection’s 16mm film treasury and a recently digitized U-matic cassette collection highlight the many functions of Central Library through the twentieth century.

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 CoverLobby Gallery
Few remember the 16mm film collection that was once circulated to patrons of Brooklyn Public Library. As that format became obsolete, we were lucky to save those reels that were relevant to the borough of Brooklyn and to the Library itself. One of these is The Library: A Family Affair, a 1952 film made in collaboration with the Board of Education. It takes the viewer on a tour of the Library’s many services through the story of one “typical” nuclear family, the Greens. Although the dramatic pacing is on par with that of an afternoon nap, it is a little gem of a film that shows a myriad of now-antiquated library technologies in action, including the photocharger, the telautograph machine, and desktop microfilm readers. Expect to see selections from the Brooklyn Collection’s 16mm film treasury and a recently digitized U-matic cassette collection highlight the many functions of Central Library through the twentieth century.

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

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