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Drawn in Brooklyn: An Exhibition of Children's Book Illustrations with Programs

Brooklyn Public Library
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Problem Statement

Brooklyn Public Library strives to serve the borough’s youngest residents through early literacy and school engagement programs. The problems it faces are considerable. The cultural richness of New York City creates competition for the attention of children and their parents at the same time as the diverse demographics of Brooklyn present significant challenges. Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents span a vast spectrum of economic, educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. As it has historically, Brooklyn continues to welcome immigrants from all over the world, which accounts for the fact that half of all Brooklynites do not speak English at home. Raising the image of the library and making known its readiness to help build reading skills and motivation in children is a constant concern.


Drawn in Brooklyn, a four-month exhibition of more than 100 original works of art for children’s books featured 34 illustrators who live and work in Brooklyn, from the most exciting newcomers to the legends of the business. The exhibition served as a vehicle to connect children with books through illustrations. The accompanying public programs appealed to adults and children alike, while building appreciation for how visual content complements the written word to produce compelling childhood literature. These programs included a panel discussion on children’s publishing, sixteen sessions in which grade school classes were invited to meet with an individual illustrator, twelve hands-on art workshops, and a family day illustrators’ festival. The entire project was supported with an extensive press, website, and marketing campaign.


1. Library patrons became aware that picture books are intended to illuminate stories and delight and exercise the minds of children. Children were encouraged by participating illustrators to follow their artistic and literary interests and dreams by reading books. 2. Children and parents initiated follow-up collaborations with author/illustrators in their communities. 3. Drawn in Brooklyn brought greater public awareness of BPL and its mission to serve young people, through organized exhibition tours, capacity events and extensive press coverage.