7. The Library is 1 of 3 Interior Landmarked Libraries in NYC

The impressive Othmer Library on the second floor is home to over 33,000 books, archival collections, oral history interviews, photographs, maps, artifacts, and paintings that document the commercial, residential, community, and civic development of Brooklyn. When BHS and BPL combined their holdings, the Center acquired a collection that now has a more comprehensive spread across the entirety of Brooklyn’s history. The extensive collections are available to anyone who wants to conduct research for various purposes, whether they are a student, artist, author, journalist, or genealogist!

The collection is not the only impressive part of the library. The space, again designed by George B. Post, is one of only three interior landmarked libraries in New York City. The other two are the Morgan Library and the New York Public Library. You can often find the Othmer Library used as a filming location, and has appeared in Mozart in the Jungle, Mr. Robot, and more.

Ernest Tanare, [Othmer Library, Long Island Historical Society], circa 1938, Photographic print, v1974.031.64; Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

You may notice that the beautiful ornamentation of the library stops at its ceiling. As opposed to the paneled wood ceiling of the Great Hall, the library ceiling its extremely plain. No one knows quite why this is. There is no structural need for the ceiling to be left blank. One theory is that the Long Island Historical Society simply ran out of money during its construction.

Regardless of the plain white ceiling, the library is still a beautiful space and features many innovative architectural elements. The ceiling is a hung ceiling, suspended from the top floor of the building with iron trusses rather than supported from below. Necessary iron support columns are covered in carved wood to match the rest of the elegant decor in the room. The reading lamps in the library today are based on the originals which were gas-powered. The Historical Society was electrified in 1923 by the Edison Company in New Jersey.