The Othmer Library

Othmer Library

Brooklyn Historical Society houses a world-renowned special collections and archives library on the second floor of its landmark building. The Othmer Library’s magnificent reading room, with its stained glass windows and carved wooden columns, transports the visitor to an earlier era.  

The Library & Archives department collects, preserves, and makes accessible one of the most comprehensive collection of materials related to Brooklyn’s history and culture. Its holdings include over 33,000 books, 1,600 archival collections, 1,200 oral history interviews, 50,000 photographs, 2,000 maps, 8,000 artifacts, and 300 paintings which document the commercial, residential, community, and civic development of the borough. The collections foster new and cutting-edge scholarship; support public learning and research; and enrich BHS's exhibits, educational activities, and public programming.  

The library is open to the public on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.  

History of the Library

When it was founded in 1863 as the Long Island Historical Society, the institution’s mission was to discover, procure, and preserve materials related to general history, especially the natural, civil, literary, and ecclesiastical history of the United States, the State of New York, and more particularly of the counties, towns, and villages of Long Island.

By the mid-20th century, BHS narrowed the focus of the collections and began to seek out materials specifically relating to what is today known as Brooklyn. Today, the Library & Archives is a nationally-recognized repository comprised of physical and born-digital collections, including manuscripts, personal and family papers, business records,  newspapers and other periodicals, books and pamphlets, maps and atlases, artifacts, paintings, photographs, films, oral histories, and genealogies. The library possesses a unique and growing collection of materials about Brooklyn that provides important insights into the nation's history and heritage.