BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A visit to the new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Greenpoint begins before you even walk through the door with an inviting outdoor plaza. It is the gateway to a building twice the size of the old branch that stood in the same spot on Norman Avenue and Leonard Street.

What You Need To Know

  • The Brooklyn Public Library is opening its first new branch since 2012 in Greenpoint

  • The Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center replaces another library building on the same spot on Norman Avenue and Leonard Street

  • The $23 million project is twice the size of the old branch with an outdoor plaza and two green roof gardens

  • The second floor reading garden has a cistern that collects rainwater used to water plants on the third floor demonstration garden

"The old one is about 7,500 square feet and this is 15,000 interior square feet, so we have double the interior size, plus a lot more outdoor space,” said Ames O'Neill, the project manager for the Brooklyn Public Library. 

The $23 million Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center has been in the works for five years. It's been three years since the old branch was demolished to make way for this one.

The theme here is green. 

The Brooklyn Public Library received a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to help build the library. The fund is part of the settlement with ExxonMobil over the years long oil spill in Greenpoint along the Newtown Creek.

"Some of the things that we committed to were capturing more storm water, being more energy efficient, and also creating a place where people can come and learn and have their own meetings and programs about environmental education,” said O’Neill. 

There are two green roofs, and a cistern collects rain water on the second floor to water plants on the third. 

The roofs also help keep energy costs down. The plants, even the special paving, help keep the building cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter. Solar panels will assist in providing power to the library, too.

Of course, the library has plenty of books and computers, separate sections for kids, teens and adults, and meeting spaces for community groups.

Because of Covid-19, it will only be open for grab-and-go lobby service for picking up books that are placed on hold, and for returning them. The library does plan on having programs both online and using the new outdoor spaces. 

"Doing live tours and interactive programs from the garden that people can experience online, so they can gain access to the building, without actually entering it”, said Alexa Orr, neighborhood library supervisor for the Brooklyn Public Library.

Orr added that they are also talking about having live music from the second floor garden, that neighbors can experience outside on the plaza. It’s all in hopes of soon welcoming the community into their brand new library.