Taking a page
from the success of commercial competitors such as Barnes &
Noble, the clever folks who work at the main branch of the Brooklyn
Public Library have revitalized its 10,500-square-foot youth wing.
Now flush with colorful seating, cozy reading nooks, and a mother
lode of computers and T-1 lines, the BPL has been transformed into a
spiffy haven for neighborhood kids.
Working with $3 million worth of grants from public and private
sources, the library engaged New York architecture firm Pasanella +
Klein Stolzman + Berg PC -- best known for designing such hip hotels
as the Shoreham, in New York. "There are lots of libraries out there
that have tree houses or lighthouses in them," says Elisabeth
Martin, the BPL's director of planning, design, and facilities. "But
they are considered juvenile by older kids, who just want to go to a
place that they think is cool."
The wing's formerly drab floors now sparkle with speckled
blue-and-turquoise linoleum, and a 1,200-foot-long technology loft
hovers above the main floor. On a recent visit, the loft was abuzz
with teenagers chatting and surfing online. Elsewhere, parents and
younger kids "shopped" for library books to take home, filling
grocery-style baskets to the brim on their way to the checkout.
James, a 15-year-old patron of the BPL, is a true believer. "I
just like being here," he says. "It's fun. Plus, nobody bugs me to
get off the computer, like at home."
Bonnie Schwartz ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a
freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Visit the Brooklyn
Public Library on the Web ( http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/