Brooklyn Public Library exterior

For the past year, the Brooklyn Public Library has been celebrating its 125th anniversary, and we wanted in on the fun! On November 30, 1896, the Brooklyn Common Council passed a resolution to establish Brooklyn Public Library to nurture “the minds of the people and lay the foundation of a better civilization for the future.” A year later, the first branch opened in the former P. S. 3 on Bedford Avenue. The growth of the library system was bolstered by a $1.6 million donation from Andrew Carnegie in 1901. This money was used to open 21 new branches across the borough, 18 of which are still in use. Today, Brooklyn Public Library is one of the largest public library systems in the country, with 61 BPL branches serving over 850,000 active cardholders. To mark this special anniversary, Untapped New York collaborated with BPL to bring you 10 secrets from across the library’s many branches.

1. Bookmobiles have been running since 1951

Photo by Gregg Richards, Courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

The Bookmobile, a mini moving library, started in 1951 with a collection of 2,500 volumes. A staff of six operated the vehicle. The library on wheels circulated over 10,000 books throughout hospitals, schools, summer camps, and public housing facilities, in its first year.

BPL’s bookmobiles still drive the streets of Brooklyn! You may spot one at a park, shelter, community center, or other public space. Bookmobiles travel hundreds of miles each year to bring books directly to the community. The Library also sends books by mail to homebound patrons, delivers books to hospitals and clinics, and operates a series of mobile libraries for the NYC Department of Corrections.