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The Mott Haven Library is closed for repairs, but will return better than ever in mid-spring.
The Mott Haven Library, the oldest of all the Bronx branches in the New York Public Library system, has closed for necessary renovations but is slated to reopen mid-spring.
Repairs at the three-story, Italian Renaissance Revival style building designed by Babb, Cook & Willard, will include new flooring, new controls for the heating and cooling system to make energy consumption more efficient, upgrades to the dedicated teen space on the third floor, as well as updates to the finishes and furniture.
Last year the branch, located at 310 W. 140th St., put in a new HVAC system and replaced the windows. But the building retains the elegance it had when opened in 1905 as the first of 65 public libraries that steel magnate Andrew Carnegie established throughout the city. It was declared a New York City landmark in 1969.
“The improvements reflect the history and beauty of the building,” library manager Tiffany McCrae said.
During the closure, the staff will continue to offer programs virtually, as well as attending schools in the community to provide services and support to students. The library is also providing computer classes for adults through a partnership with the East Side Settlement Houses’ community center at Mitchel Houses, which is just a few blocks away at 210 Alexander Ave.
There is a virtual storytime for children, and before the closure, teens were provided with to-go bags filled with arts-and-craft supplies in order to continue with their “Get Creative” program, virtually. Times and dates of all events can be found on the library’s website.
The branch has also partnered with local organizations in the community for people to apply for library card applications and other resources. And while the branch is closed, the library is directing visitors to the Woodstock Library at 761 E. 160th Street and the High Bridge Library at 78 W. 168th.
“We know that this temporary closure can be challenging for our patrons, but improvement projects such as this one allow the library and our dedicated staff to continue offering programs and services that the community relies on in a welcoming space that is available to all,” said McCrae.
McCrae was born and raised in the Mott Haven community and has a vested interest in its operations. She has been with the branch since 2006, where she first started as a library page. She became the manager in 2015.
Carnegie’s vision in creating the NYPL stemmed from his belief that the public should have access to books. “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert,” he said at the time.
In a borough deprived of bookstores, this statement is especially pertinent today.
Editor’s Note: In a previous version, the Mott Haven Branch Library was referred to as the oldest library in the city. It is not. It is the oldest in the Bronx. The Herald regrets the error.