September 22, 2005


One of the nation’s oldest children’s libraries reopens with modern reading rooms and new technology for all ages.

Brooklyn, NY, September 22, 2005 — To mark the reopening of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Stone Avenue Library, located at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard in Brooklyn, NY, BPL proudly invites the community to the Library for a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a full afternoon of free festivities on Thursday, September 29th, 2005 at 1 PM. The event will be attended by Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director of BPL, Dr. Lucille Thomas, President of BPL’s Board of Trustees and elected officials.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Senior Choir of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will provide a free indoor concert. Outside of Stone Avenue Library, beginning at 3:30 PM, BPL, Heart of Brooklyn, NYCHA, and other community organizations will co-sponsor the Stone Avenue Community Fair with free refreshments, face painting and a magic show. All are invited to attend.

BPL’s Stone Avenue Library officially opened on September 24, 1914 as one the nation’s first public libraries devoted to children. It was built with funds donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and designed according to the recommendations of pioneering children’s librarian Clara Whitehill Hunt, who advised architects to create a “model children’s library” with “artistic furniture and decorations.” Its original whimsical details included a fireplace mosaic of a castle and wooden benches with rabbits carved into them that still exist today.

Although Stone Avenue Library has expanded its services to adults, its librarians continue to seek ways to improve the library experience for children. The Library’s expansion of early literacy services now provides babies and toddlers with free educational programs, like “Preschool Storycraft” in which librarians introduce preschoolers to the world of books through picture books, puppets, songs and rhymes. Stone Avenue Library’s new, baby-friendly First Five Years Space features colorful carpeting, foam furniture, age-specialized computers and over 2,400 sturdy board books.

“The Stone Avenue Library was one of the first libraries in the country planned exclusively for the use of children,” said Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director of Brooklyn Public Library. “Keeping with that original spirit, the newly renovated Stone Avenue Library includes a spectacular First Five Years Space — a safe and cheerful place for babies and preschoolers to discover the world of literacy through board books, learning tools, and even computer software
designed exclusively for toddlers.”

Today, Stone Avenue Library serves people of all ages with free access to computers, wireless Internet service, a diverse array of educational and cultural programs, and a collection of over 40,000 books and other library items. It is also the home of Heritage House, a cultural center that promotes the collection and study of African-American and multi-ethnic history and culture.

The two-year, $1.7 million renovation of the 14,252-square-foot Stone Avenue Library was designed by Sen Architects of New York, NY and included the following work:

•First Five Years Reading Space – this colorful area for children five-years-old and younger features age-specialized furniture, learning tools, board books and computers.
•An electrical and telecommunications upgrade featuring Wireless Internet service.
•Purchase of new electronic equipment, including 17 public computers, one Access Brooklyn Card Kiosk and two Express Check Machines (for use with BPL’s multifunction library card), and one Xerox copier machine.
•A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC).
•New lighting, carpeting, and paint throughout.
•Refinishing of existing wood shelving, paneling and historic benches.
•Redesign of the interior public service areas and staff office space.
•New furniture designed for today's library, including shelves, tables and chairs for public use.
•Complete compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including new entry doors, bathrooms, and a new elevator.

Funding for the library renovation was generously allocated by the New York City Council. Brooklyn Public Library also extends a special thanks to the New York City Housing Authority and to the community-based organizations whose donations and participation have made the Stone Avenue Library Community Celebration possible.

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