Photo by Jonathan Pace
A new chapter in Battery Park City life
By Billy Parrott
In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” Jane Jacobs wrote about the development of Downtown Manhattan and the importance of having a library branch in the area.
Now, almost 30 years after the first residents moved to the Battery Park City area and after 11 years of persistence and determination, false starts and setbacks, the neighborhood finally has a library to call its own.
The Battery Park City Branch of the New York Public Library celebrated its grand opening on March 18, 2010 and opened its doors to a warm and welcoming community.
In the weeks leading up to the library’s opening the community’s enthusiasm was apparent. Dozens of people stopped by, some just to say hello and welcome us to the neighborhood, others to tell us stories of how long they have waited for a library in the neighborhood. Once thought of as a pie-in-the-sky dream, the reality of the opening seemed to really sink in once the signage and banners were up.
I cannot tell you how fortunate I feel. For the past five years I have been a librarian at the Jefferson Market Branch in Greenwich Village, a historic building in a historic neighborhood. I had the best job in the world at one of the most beautiful buildings in New York City and I worked with some amazing individuals. Now I have an amazing staff at New York Public Library’s newest branch, a beautiful and glowing space, in Battery Park City, New York City’s newest and most beautiful neighborhood.
I left the best to come to the best.
The Battery Park City Branch is home to over 24,000 books, DVDs and materials, 36 public access computers, free Wi-Fi, wired tables for laptop use, a multipurpose programming space, and separate children’s, young adult, and adult reading areas.
Careful thought and planning went into the design and construction of the library. It is the New York Public Library’s first green library in Manhattan.
Libraries though are more than bricks and mortar and the materials and resources they offer. The Battery Park City Branch exemplifies the phrase “Library as Place.” It is a bright and open source of inspiration, a place where the past, present, and future is evident. It is a place where one can just stop and reflect and enjoy the space.
Libraries play an important role in the communities of New York City and they are needed now more than ever. Whether it is programs and activities for toddlers and their parents, access to resources and information, or home work help for students of all ages, libraries and the staff of the New York Public Library advance knowledge, inspire life-long learning, and strengthen communities.
Billy Parrott is the library manager of the Battery Park City Branch of the New York Public Library.