Brooklyn Central Library: Linda Johnson and Toshiko Mori in Conversation
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Sat, October 16th, 2021
6:00pm — 7:00pm
Join Linda Johnson, CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, and architect Toshiko Mori for a virtual tour, conversation, and Q&A about the single largest renovation and restoration in Central Library’s 80-year history, and what the future of the library means for BPL and the surrounding communities. The conversation will be moderated by Shannon Mattern, professor of Anthropology at The New School.
Central Library is Brooklyn’s home library, and one of New York City’s foremost cultural, civic, and educational institutions. It receives more than 1.2 million visits each year, and items from its collections circulate 1.6 million times. In 2018, Central Library started construction on a multi-phase renovation for new public spaces and much-needed infrastructure upgrades. Carried out in partnership with internationally renowned Toshiko Mori Architects, the goals of the renovation are to reclaim and optimize public areas, create inspiring and innovative spaces, and restore a Brooklyn landmark. May 2021 marked the completion of the first phase of renovation; the second phase of renovation will begin in 2022.
This talk is offered during OHNY Weekend as a part of Radical Knowledge: Libraries as Community Catalysts, an ongoing program examining how libraries serve as both vibrant learning institutions and centers for their communities, providing physical and virtual spaces to enrich civic life, expand economic opportunity, and improve the quality of place and quality of life for New Yorkers.
This talk will include a short video with Linda Johnson and Toshiko Mori walking through the renovated library.
As president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, Linda E. Johnson leads one of the nation’s most historic and most innovative library systems. Linda has overseen the transformation of BPL from an analog to a modern library with state-of-the-art technology available for free to all patrons, including the 33% of Brooklyn residents who do not have internet access at home. Brooklyn Public Library has become the borough’s largest provider of free wireless internet and has invested in more than 1,500 laptop and desktop computers that are available for free to the public. Linda and her team have worked with the Library’s partners in the public sector to ensure that each branch has a baseline level of technology, with at least one full-time staff member dedicated to helping patrons access the Library’s digital programs and equipment. Under Linda’s leadership, the Library’s presence and impact in the community have expanded beyond the confines of its 59 branches. BPL now hosts collections at nearly 200 off-site locations and provides services in 552 outreach sites, including schools, homeless shelters, senior centers and correctional facilities. The Library’s Outreach Services Department, founded in 2013, has developed new and nationally recognized resources for immigrants, seniors, veterans, the incarcerated, the homebound and other vulnerable or marginalized patrons. In 2016, Brooklyn Public Library was awarded the nation’s highest honor for libraries, the Institute for Museum and Library Services’ National Medal, in recognition of its extraordinary community outreach.
Toshiko Mori, FAIA is the founding principal of Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC, and the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). She is a graduate of the Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and holds an honorary master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She participates in international symposia and conferences and has lectured at universities across the country and around the world. Her projects have been the focus of several publications, including the February 2020 issue of A+U magazine. Mori has won numerous awards including the Academy Award in Architecture, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the AIA New York Chapter Medal of Honor; the 2016 ACSA Tau Sigma Delta National Honor Society Gold Medal; and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She recently received the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, and Architectural Record’s Women in Architecture Design Leader Award in 2019.
Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities, Deep Mapping the Media City, and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, all published by University of Minnesota Press. In addition to writing dozens of articles and book chapters, she also contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places, a journal focusing on architecture, urbanism, and landscape, and she collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions.