The Brooklyn Public Library is joining forces with the Brooklyn Historical Society

February 28, 2020

Photo of the Brooklyn Public Library flagship by Ajay Suresh via Flickr

Two Brooklyn institutions are joining forces to broaden their impact and create “the premiere collection” of archival materials related to the history of the borough. The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) have announced a plan to unify their resources, which was approved by the boards of both organizations this week. The library will serve as the parent institution and the partnership is expected to bring greater financial stability to both while expanding the historical society’s reach through the library’s 59 branches. 

BHS will remain in its historic 1881 Pierrepont Street home and the library will transfer it’s Brooklyn Collection (which includes more than 200,000 books, photographs, manuscripts, newspapers, and maps) there. That will free up space in the library’s flagship (which is currently undergoing a $135 million renovation) for more public programming. BHS will contribute its conservation and preservation expertise to the library’s holdings. As with all BPL resources, access to BHS and the combined research collection will be freely available for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public. 

“Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Public Library are both education institutions dedicated to helping individuals build a sense of self, a sense of place, and a sense of community. Together our institutions hold important collections of material, manuscripts, and artifacts, vital to our shared history that we are committed to making accessible to everyone,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said in a press statement. “I’m thrilled this partnership will provide a new level of care and interpretation of our own collections, and that we will greatly expand access to this combined archive through our far-reaching networks and library branches.”

Both institutions are now in discussions with the city—which owns the Grand Army Plaza location and most of the other branches—to figure out the necessary funding required for the merger.

No major changes are expected as the two combine forces, but the New York Times reports that BHS might undergo a subtle rebranding in the form of a name change.




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