Form Follows Function: Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch – YA Space Observation

Description of YA Space:

  • What is the location of the YA area within the library/school? What areas is it adjacent to?

The Youth Wing of BPL Central is located on the first floor, adjacent to the Information Commons area. Children and Young Adults both occupy the Youth Wing.

  • What is the size of the YA area in square feet?

10,500 square feet.

  • What is the shape of the YA area?

It is a large rectangle, wide enough for work spaces to exist throughout.

  • Give a description of the layout (for example: separate room; own entrance; zones, such as lounge area, program area, staff work space, quiet study).

This wing was completed in 2000 by MDA Design Group International. They restored the wing’s ceiling to its original height. This makes room for the Tech Loft – a space that houses 36 computers for kids up to age 16. There are a few computers installed specifically with tools to kids ages 8 and under.

Tech Loft and book check-out


Wooden window seats and oak bookcases around the room’s perimeter and under the Tech Loft were kept and refurbished. There are clear workspaces designed for different functions (music, art, reading – magazines and books, computers, homework help, performance), divided by the bookcases and structural dividers. There are also separate, dedicated program rooms accessible under and at the Tech Loft level.

program rooms.JPG
Program Rooms

The youngest users are at the back of the space, where there is a separate entrance with security. Teen areas such as the casual reading room, and reference section, are at the opposite end, with access to the main plaza entrance.

They also have their own book check-out area and bathrooms.

  • What are the views from YA space?

On the NE wall, there are windows spanning the height of the building (they must be 30 feet high) that allow indirect light to flood in. The views are of Eastern Parkway (a road), but there are trees and plants in the space before the road. It is very pleasant and light because of these windows. The SW wall has no windows, and instead has the Tech Loft, creating interesting levels for work and play.

  • Briefly describe the YA space décor (for example: color scheme, windows, walls, posters, signs, displays).

The Youth Wing has a contemporary color palette, while still allowing the beauty of the building to show. There is color, but the space isn’t an overblown explosion of primary and neon colors either. The space is energizing, but quiet reading can happen here as well.

  • Does the library utilize bookshelves and walls to market or “merchandize” the collection? How?

Bookshelves are used to create dividers and house collections. Tops of lower cases hold current or recommended books, or books being showcased (Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, for example).

Bookcases dividing functional spaces
  • Does the library currently have a written plan or schedule for regularly “refreshing” or “renewing” the YA space décor?

I need to ask this question. There is some flexibility to change the space, because of the movable bookcases, but I’ll find out what the budget is for keep the space looking fresh, updated, and apealing for young patrons.

  • What are the unique attributes of your YA area?

They have done a nice job of creating a modern space in a building that is 75 years old. They have kept the important “old bones” and interesting details, while creating a fun and productive space for teens.


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