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Visit the Library

The Othmer Library is located at BHS’s main site at 128 Pierrepont Street. It is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from 1 to 5 pm.

Admission to the library is included with suggested museum admission. For upcoming closures, directions, and suggested admission rates, see the Visit page. To learn more about the history of the Othmer Library, see About the library.

Archival Research

An appointment is necessary to use archival materials, as these collections are not stored in our reading room. Please submit requests for appointments at least two days before the date you would like to visit. Email [email protected] to request an appointment; you will receive an email confirmation once you are scheduled.

Several collections are stored offsite and require three weeks notice to use:

BHS is currently working on Portal to the Past: Creating Brooklyn Historical Society’s Digital Map Collection, a project that will increase public access to the institution’s extensive collection of maps through conservation, digitization, and the creation of a web-based portal. At the completion of the project, we expect more than 1,600 maps to be digitized and published online, similar to our award-winning Oral History Portal. As we prepare the maps over the next months, there will be limited access to maps in the reading room. Please email [email protected] at least two days in advance of your visit to check on map availability. For information and updates on this exciting project, subscribe to the BHS blog by signing up for our e-newsletter.

Other materials are available for use during library open hours and do not require an appointment. These include books, some maps, atlases (including fire insurance atlases), directories, periodicals, and land conveyance records, as well as databases, including our image and oral history databases, Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Long Island Star newspapers, and ancestry.com.

Prepare for Your Visit

All BHS collections are non-circulating, which means they cannot be checked out or taken home. Plan accordingly!

Here are some tips to help prepare for your visit to the Othmer Library:

  • Our reading room is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from 1 to 5pm. You may come and go at any point during the afternoon.
  • When you arrive, please check in at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.
  • You will be asked to check your coats and bags. Keys to lockers are available at no charge at the Admissions Desk.
  • You can use pencils, notepads, laptops, or tablets during your research at BHS.
  • You will need to leave pens, food, drink, and gum in your checked bag.
  • It is very cold in our library, so bring an extra layer to keep warm!
  • Digital photography is permitted (and encouraged!) without a flash.
  • Free Wi-Fi is available in the library
  • There are a limited number of electrical outlets in our historic reading room.

Lockers

We have small lockers ( 17” x 12” x 11”) available, as well as four tall lockers (17” x 12” x 33”). You may sign out a locker key at no cost from the Admissions Desk on the first floor. Please check your personal items in the lockers, which are located on the ground floor, before entering the library on the second floor.

Contact Information

For additional information or questions, please contact library staff.