Sunset Park Library Goes Weeks Without Air Conditioning, Residents Say

By Nikhita Venugopal on July 29, 2014 6:52pm | Updated on July 31, 2014 7:44pm

 The Sunset Park branch of Brooklyn Public Library is located at Fourth Avenue and 51st Street.
The Sunset Park branch of Brooklyn Public Library is located at Fourth Avenue and 51st Street.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

SUNSET PARK — The air conditioning unit at the local public library has been busted for the last three weeks, leaving residents without a cool space to do their summer reading, residents said.

The Sunset Park branch of Brooklyn Public Library, located at 5108 Fourth Ave., has been using fans to keep cool since its air conditioner stopped working on July 7.

“Who’s going to be comfortable in there for more than 10 to 15 minutes [without air conditioning?]” asked Jovita Sosa, a resident of Sunset Park who is organizing a demonstration on Friday afternoon in front of the branch.

“There’s no reason why our children should have no AC,” she added.

Since the cooling unit broke, there were three instances during which the library had to close for a total of six-and-a-half hours over the last month. Four "large capacity portable" units will replace the former AC and will be operational by Aug. 5.

“The portable cooling solution will likely be the primary source of cooling for the foreseeable future as BPL continues to work through a longer term plan,” a BPL spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

The public library is one of the neighborhood’s main community spaces with free programs for children and adults but it is often overcrowded in the heavily populated neighborhood.

Many local parents rely on the library’s free resources when expensive summer camps and programs are not an option, Sosa added.

David Torres, 45, used to visit the library often in the early 90s with his stepdaughter, who is now 25. But now, the Sunset Park father rarely takes his two young children there because the space can’t accommodate Sunset Park’s density.

“It’s too small for the neighborhood,” he said. “It has gotten more congested over the years.”

The Sunset Park branch last underwent a major renovation in 1998 when a new glass brick façade was installed, according to its website.

“We can’t even get a library that can suit our needs,” Sosa said.

UPDATE: The air conditioning units arrived on Thursday, July 31, a day ahead of schedule, Councilman Carlos Menchaca said in a statement.

“The Brooklyn Public Library has informed my office that the air conditioning units have arrived a day early at the Sunset Park branch. I thank the BPL for keeping our office updated on the AC repairs and for working around the clock to quickly install them. My office will continue to communicate these [Facebook] status updates,” he said.

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