New Utrecht Library Reopens After Five Month Renovation

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Council Member Vincent Gentile and Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda Johnson praise the library's reopening. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Council Member Vincent Gentile and Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda Johnson praise the library’s reopening. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Closed for interior renovation since June, Bensonhurst’s New Utrecht library today celebrated its October 31 reopening with a visit from Council Member Vincent Gentile, Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda Johnson and some pint-sized students from Bensonhurst’s Success Academy on Avenue P.

Locals are already utilizing new computers at the branch. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Locals are already utilizing new computers at the branch. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Johnson started off the celebratory morning programming by praising the “fabulous new rug”, children’s play area, new computers, and new lighting the building had been freshly equipped with since shuttering five months ago. However, Johnson also noted that, “This branch has seen a lot of wear and tear,” and there is, “still $5 million in projects that need to be done here to make this branch what it needs to be.”

Gentile took the podium next, brightly asking the children assembled on the new kids carpet, “Do you love your library?”

“Yes!” came the jubilant reply.

A thank you card from students at Success Academy for Council Member Gentile. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

A thank you card from students at Success Academy for Council Member Gentile. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

The Council Member went on to note that the “New Utrecht Library is one of the libraries most often used in Brooklyn.”

Indeed, according to a press release, of the Brooklyn Public Library’s 60 branches the New Utrecht Library ranks in the top five.

Success Academy students had a field trip to the New Utrecht Library branch in honor of its reopening this week. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Success Academy students had a field trip to the New Utrecht Library branch in honor of its reopening this week. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

The release also noted that long-term structural problems, including extensive exterior work, will need to eventually be addressed through a larger capital project.

“Maybe you’ll be here the next time they do a new renovation at the library,” Gentile only half-joked to the children, adding, “you might be a little taller than.”

Following Johnson and Gentile’s remarks, branch librarian Miss Diane sang a song about a rocket ship and veteran Brooklyn Public Library children’s event entertainer Camille Harris performed some hand clapping “silly jazz”.

Success Academy students sang some silly jazz and a song about taking a rocketship to the moon at the New Utrecht Library's reopening. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Success Academy students sang some silly jazz and a song about taking a rocketship to the moon at the New Utrecht Library’s reopening. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

This is the second renovation of the New Utrecht library in recent years. In 2013, the library closed for a month to undergo “customer service enhancements” including the addition of two self-check-out counters.

The library will now resume its normal operating hours.

New shelving in a freshly renovated children's area. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

New shelving in a freshly renovated children’s area. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

While Johnson noted that “it’s always difficult when we close a branch, people get dispersed,” New Utrecht was already teeming with locals utilizing the new computers.

According to the Brooklyn Public Library, the New Utrecht branch has been operating since 1894:

New Utrecht Library has operated in its current location since 1956, but its history dates to 1894 and the opening of the Free Library of the Town of New Utrecht. The branch joined the BPL system in 1901

The building's exterior, with celebratory balloons adorning the entrance. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

The building’s exterior, with celebratory balloons adorning the entrance. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

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About Author

Hannah Frishberg is a 4th generation Brooklynite and editor of the Bensonhurst Bean. You can reach her at editor@bensonhurstbean.com, via Twitter @BensonhurstBean or via the Bensonhurst Bean's Facebook.