Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Historical Society to Merge

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The Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Historical Society have announced a new plan to combine, merging their rich archival collections into what both institutions are billing as the premier collection related to the history of Brooklyn while also expanding their reach.

Under the plan, which was approved this week by the boards of both organizations, the library — the nation’s fifth largest — will become the parent institute of the historical society. The society will remain in its landmark 1881 building in Brooklyn Heights, which houses nearly 100,000 books, manuscripts, photographs, maps and other rare items dating to the 17th century.

The historical society’s building will also be home to the library’s Brooklyn Collection, a trove of more than 200,000 books, photographs, manuscripts, newspapers and maps.

The library’s president and chief executive, Linda E. Johnson, speaking in a joint telephone interview with the historical society’s president, Deborah Schwartz, said there would be “no change” to either institution’s mission.

The library’s flagship on Grand Army Plaza and most of its 59 branches are owned by the city, which allows their use in exchange for serving the borough. The city also pays the cost of utilities.

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