Thursday, October 17, 2013

Case Study No. 1057: Staff of the Brooklyn Public Library

Who Grows in Brooklyn
Read about this film and bookmobiles on our blog!
"Who Grows in Brooklyn" follows a bookmobile and the dedicated librarians who bring books to the inner city. Shows people of all ages using the bookmobile and becoming knowledgeable about the Brooklyn Public Library system. Filmed in 1969, this is part of the 16 mm film collection, housed in the Brooklyn Collection at the Brooklyn Public Library.
See catalog record for full listing: http://catalog.brooklyn b11427633~S64
Tags: Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn bookmobile librarians
Added: 2 years ago
From: brooklynology
Views: 4,062

["Brooklyn Public Library Film Collection" appears on screen, as several shots outside of the Brooklyn Public Library are shown]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] People are threatened by the library.
[cut to a pair of female librarians sorting books and placing them in paper bags]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] They might know that's the library on the corner, but the average person is reluctant to go in because they feel that people there are educated ... "I'll make a fool of myself if I mispronounce a word."
[cut to the librarians (and another male librarian) loading the books into the back of the BPL bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] But when you meet them out on the street, in an informal setting, you can talk with people on a person-to-person basis. And I mean, they kind of forget you're a librarian.
[cut to the bookmobile (a blue-and-white van with "Brooklyn Public Library" and "Sidewalk Service" written on the sides) pulling out of the library]

The Brooklyn Public Library
and the National Book Committee present
Who Grows in Brooklyn
(c)1969 Peter Heer

[cut to more shots of the bookmobile driving through the streets of Brooklyn]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] We're going to the far side of a low-income housing project.
[cut to the bookmobile parking next to the sidewalk]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] And we drive up and turn on the sound, people come from everywhere. Even in areas where you didn't think that anyone was around ...
[cut to some children gathering around the bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] We never know what audience we're gonna attract. Sometimes it's a mixture of all ... children, young people, and adults.
[cut to the librarians setting up boxes of books and book racks on the sidewalk next to the bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] Because we are trying to get them interested in using the library.
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] We talk to people on the street, and the very fact that we have books and things ... it gives us a chance to talk informally.
[cut to some of the children browsing the books, as well as helping the librarians set up the book displays]
FEMALE PATRON 1: [in voice over] You gonna be here every week?
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] We don't come here every week, no. The idea is just to show you that, uh, the sort of stuff that's available in your libraries. The sort of books and material that's available in the library. And we can give you, we can join you up here and give you a library card, and tell you where the nearest library is, and you can go along to the library.
FEMALE PATRON 1: [in voice over] Could you, can I have a card?
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Yeah, sure. We'll join you up with a card. Come on.
FEMALE PATRON 1: [in voice over] Okay.
[cut to more shots of children looking at the books (including one on rollerskates)]
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Are you gonna take some books, Joey? Wanna have a look around?
YOUNG BOY 1: [in voice over] Yeah, yeah.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] What sort of books are you interested in? What sort of things are you interested in?
YOUNG BOY 1: [in voice over] Mysteries, mysteries.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Mysteries, okay. Let's find some mysteries.
[cut to more shots of people looking through the books]
YOUNG BOY 2: [in voice over] Y'know, I like reading. I like to get books to learn.
[cut to shots of more children browsing the books]
YOUNG BOY 3: [in voice over] Well, I like 'em 'cause I like to read.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] What's your name and address?
[cut to more children looking over the books]
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] What grade are you in?
YOUNG BOY 4: [in voice over] Seventh.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Seventh grade ... Are you in the seventh? You in the seventh grade?
YOUNG BOY 5: [in voice over] Fifth!
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Fifth grade ... Okay.
[cut to more shots of children holding books]
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Look, she's trying to get out to the people that don't use the library service, trying to involve them in the community, the library, and I feel this is very important.
[cut to one of the female librarians (red hair, sunglasses, orange and yellow sundress with matching kerchief tied over her head) reading from Ann Herbert Scott's book "Sam" to a group of children gathered around her]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] "Sam wanted to play. Everyone in his house was busy, and nobody wanted to play with him. Sam walked in the kitchen, where his mother was peeling apples for a pie, and he picked up a knife off the table. 'Sam, don't you touch that knife!' ... "
[cut to more shots of children sitting on the ground and reading books]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] We'll sign you up if you don't have a card, then you may borrow two books today.
[cut to some adults looking over the book racks]
FEMALE PATRON 2: [in voice over] My grandson wants some baseball books.
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] We only put out a sampling, there are other things inside. So if there's something particular that you don't see--
FEMALE PATRON 3: [in voice over] Okay.
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] Let us know and we'll be glad to check and see if we have it.
FEMALE PATRON 3: [in voice over] Thank you.
[cut to more adults browsing the books]
FEMALE PATRON 4: [in voice over] And you get books, all types ... Very interesting.
FEMALE PATRON 5: [in voice over] I was reading about Malcolm X here awhile back. Uh, he was quite a man, wasn't he?
[cut to more adults looking over the books]
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Fix you up with a library card, okay?
MALE PATRON 1: [in voice over] Right!
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] October Second, so as long as you return it by October Second, it will be free. And you can pick up your card if you wait about two weeks.
[cut to more adults standing near the bookmobile]
MALE PATRON 2: [in voice over] I think it's a very good idea!
MALE PATRON 3: [in voice over] Book on Booker T. Washington?
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] I'm sure we do.
[cut to the male librarian (brown hair, thick glasses, white shirt, black pants, tie) speaking with a man in front of the bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] You go to the library to return these, and pick up your card.
[cut to more adults standing around the bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] Do you know where your nearest library is?
MALE PATRON 4: [in voice over] No, I don't know.
FEMALE PATRON 6: [in voice over] I don't either, I'm right--
MALE PATRON 4: [in voice over] I've lived about six years around here.
[cut to more adults walking around the bookmobile]
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] What's your name and address, dear?
YOUNG GIRL: [in voice over] George.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] George, is that your first name?
YOUNG GIRL: [in voice over] Anna.
MALE LIBRARIAN: [in voice over] Uh, have you had a library card before?
YOUNG GIRL: [in voice over] Yes.
[cut to more people holding books outside of the bookmobile]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 2: [in voice over] We hope that this will be one means of making young people realize the necessity of staying in school ... and for, y'know, carrying on the process of self-education, which can be done through library use.
[cut to another female librarian (curly hair, yellow and red striped shirt) reading from Beatrice Schenk De Regniers' "May I Bring a Friend?" to a group of children]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] "And he said weeee!"
[cut to more shots of the children listening and laughing]
FEMALE LIBRARIAN 1: [in voice over] "When he told the king, he said, 'My dear, any friend of our friend is welcome here' ... "

Music and Sound
Victor Caruso

Film Production
Peter J. Heer



Taking it to the Streets: Bookmobiles and Brooklyn
Jun 29, 2011 11:54 AM

It is a happy day for public libraries across the city! Another nerve-wracking round of budget negotiations has come to a close, with the city of New York restoring record amounts of funding to the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and our very own Brooklyn Public Library. After months of tireless advocacy efforts by library staff and supporters, this celebratory moment seems an opportune time to put our feet up, munch on some popcorn, and think back on the good work we do here. Roll the clip!

This film, Who Grows in Brooklyn, is part of the Brooklyn Collection's 16mm film collection, which was in recent years transferred to DVD format for preservation. All the films are available for viewing in the Brooklyn Collection, and, not surprisingly, cover a range of topics relating to our borough, from a tutorial on the quintessential Brooklyn bagel to a neighborhood's homage to one of its most famous residents, Barbra Streisand.

But enough about the film collection -- what I really want to talk about today is the rolling library that trolls the streets looking for ravenous readers -- the bookmobile! Brooklyn Public Library started offering bookmobile service in 1951, with its "Library-On-Wheels". This souped-up truck was outfitted with the barebones accoutrements of a regular branch library -- shelves, books, a circulation desk, librarians, clerks -- along with a new addition to the staff: a driver. An article in the September, 1957 issue American Library Association's newsletter ALA Bulletin, "Reaching Out: bookmobile service in Brooklyn", provides an in-depth breakdown of the specifications of Brooklyn's mobile library: "The bookmobile itself is 27 feet long, 8 feet wide, and weighs 21,500 pounds. The shelves can conveniently carry 2,500 books."

The bookmobiles' mission was to reach those Brooklynites who lived beyond a half-mile radius of any of the 55 regular branch libraries, and neighborhoods with populations below 50,000. As detailed in the ALA Bulletin article, the bookmobile stopped at two types of locations -- community hubs and schools. A typical day saw the bookmobile visiting one to three locations for a few hours at a time, with each stop scheduled to maximize the number of visitors the bookmobile could host. The bus would visit schools during the mornings, scheduling periods for each teacher to bring in students, and stop outside housing projects or shopping centers in the afternoon and evening to give workers and families a chance to drop off and pick up books.

A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from October 18, 1953, reported that Brooklyn's bookmobiles lent out 252,323 books and traversed 6,600 miles of Brooklyn streets in 1952. The ALA Bulletin article states that at a busy stop, the average book circulation is 238 books per hour -- that's four books a minute, from one circulation desk. A Brookyn Public Library News Bulletin article from that same period is less precise, but perhaps more compelling, "Books are more popular than pretzels, traveling carousels and ice cream with the youngsters of Glenwood, one of fifteen stops on the Brooklyn Public Library Library-On-Wheels schedules." The list of areas served by the bookmobiles indicates how much the borough has changed in the past 60 years, as many neighborhood names have since fallen off the map: "March, Breukelen, Kingsboro, Gravesend, Coney Island, Homecrest, Sea View, Marlboro, Beach Haven, Bay View."

More compelling than the library's self-promoting prose, I think, are these images from our photograph collection, which show the bookmobiles as a sort of pop-up town square -- wherever the buses stop, neighbors and families gather, supporting the idea that libraries play a vital role as centers for community.

Of course, some of my favorite images are those of Brooklyn's "youngsters" making use of the bookmobile. In 1957, children's circulation accounted for 70 percent of the total in Brooklyn's bookmobiles.

Conscientious patrons, right and below, prepare their books to be returned to the bookmobile librarian.

As the photo's caption states, a "book discussion in the noonday rush."

Curbside story hour at Ave. U and E 14th St.

Lost in the stacks.

Bookmobile service continued through the 1960s and 1970s, albeit in varying forms. In 1967 the service was outsourced, somewhat, to a company called the Bookmobile Service Trust, which worked in cooperation with the Brooklyn Public Library but was not staffed by library personnel. According to a July 6, 1967 article in the New York Times, this new, "canary-yellow" truck served the borough in troubled times, making stops in "deprived areas where people have often been fearful because of neighborhood tensions to leave their immediate neighborhoods to visit libraries." That contract, which provided three bookmobiles for Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, and East New York, ran out in 1971, when the city unexpectedly refused to renew the deal. After that, the Brooklyn Public Library fully reshouldered the task of bringing books to underserved populations. This period also benefitted from the blue-and-white Sidewalk Service vans, which operated much the same as the bookmobiles, albeit on a smaller scale.

The Sidewalk Service van makes an appearance at Bay Ridge's Ragamuffin Parade, 1968.

The Brooklyn Public Library continues to offer bookmobile service to this day. New trucks have been purchased periodically as older models are put to well-deserved pasture. A Kidsmobile was introduced to the fleet in 2000 in an effort to link libraries and schools in closer partnership, and to provide library service at parks in the summertime. In spring 2009, the library unveiled four brand new bookmobiles, which included the Bibliobus, New York City's very first Spanish-language traveling library. Institutions and organizations throughout the borough can request to have any of Brooklyn's bookmobiles visit their location. Carrying on a sixty-year tradition at the Brooklyn Public Library, these 29-foot mobile libraries continue to provide invaluable service to the people of Brooklyn and thanks to the budget restoration, we can keep them rolling all year long.

Posted by Ivy Marvel on Jun 29, 2011 11:54 AM

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