Shhh! Historical Society’s library hours are thing of past

The Brooklyn Paper
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The deep recession is not only casting a pall over the future — it’s ruining the past, too.

In a cost-saving measure, the Brooklyn Historical Society says it must end Saturday access to its archive, effective immediately.

The so-called Othmer Library will still be open 12 hours per week — on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 pm — but the loss of Saturday hours will remain in place until at least July, said Society President Deborah Schwartz.

“We’re trying to be as fiscally prudent as we can,” she said. “I think everybody realizes the [economic] situation isn’t just going to get better overnight and we’ve got to all be planning.”

The decision to close the library’s weekend hours came only after she reviewed usage patterns and discovered that very few scholars were taking advantage of the Saturday hours.

“We felt it was the least-damaging of all the possible public hours that we could cut,” she said.

But borough historian Ron Schweiger said the closing was a big deal.

“The Brooklyn Historical Society is a vital resource for people who are writing books and doing documentar­ies,” Schweiger said. “They have a wonderful collection, and unfortunately it’s going to shut people out who would otherwise use it on a Saturday.”

The Historical Society will retain its normal operating hours for now. Indeed, a new exhibition, “Brooklyn Redrawn,” opens today and showcases three local artists, offering their take on Brooklyn’s ever-changing grittiness.

Other ongoing exhibits include, “Counter/Cu­lture,” a photo display of Brooklyn’s storefronts; “In Our Own Words,” an oral history of Brooklyn’s Vietnam vets; and “It Happened in Brooklyn,” a permanent exhibition that proves that Brooklyn really is at the center of American history.

The library houses hundreds of thousands of rare books, photographs, manuscripts, and maps and atlases. There will be no cuts to the archive’s preservation efforts, Schwartz said.

Brooklyn Historical Society [128 Pierrepont St., at Clinton Street, (718) 222-4111]. Open Sundays, Wednesday-Friday from noon-5 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For info, visit

Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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