A Peek Inside The New Center For Fiction

A Peek Inside The New Center For Fiction

FORT GREENE – Though its official grand opening isn’t for another couple of weeks, The Center for Fiction offered a preview of its new home at 15 Lafayette Avenue (between Rockwell & Ashland Place) Tuesday morning while crews were busy adding finishing touches.

The Center for Fiction, 15 Lafayette Avenue (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

Designed by BKSK, the spacious, sun-filled, three-story space is a peaceful respite for readers and writers alike. The 18,000-square-foot facility features a bookshop in the lobby offering recent novels, classics, and titles published by indie presses.

Past the bookshop is the café/bar which will serve coffee, beer, and wine as well as fare from local vendors. Towering stacks displaying the Center’s 19th-century collection overlook half a dozen café tables, each inscribed with a literary quote from writers including Miguel de Cervantes, George Eliot, Murasaki Shikibu, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Adjacent to the café is a state-of-the-art 160-capacity auditorium which will host author talks, discussions, and events for young book lovers ranging from kindergarteners up to high schoolers.

The Center for Fiction bookshop (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
A table in The Center for Fiction café (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
Titles from The Center for Fiction’s 19th century collection (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
The Center’s Crime Fiction section (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
A bench composed with vintage books custom made by Mark Jupiter (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

The lower level of the facility houses the library’s vast Crime Fiction collection while the second floor is reserved for members. Along with administrative offices, the second floor features an inviting reading room, an outdoor terrace, another bar, and various meeting rooms and work rooms to host seminars and writing workshops. To maintain tranquility on the second level, children under 13 are not permitted upstairs (children between the ages of 13 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult member).

Annual membership fees are $150 for an individual, $275 for a couple, and $325 for a household. Among the perks of membership are access to the Center’s second level and terrace, a 10% discount on admission to special events, writing workshops, reading groups, and bookstore purchases, as well as borrowing privileges (only members can check out books from the library’s 70,000-volume collection).

A Chekov quote by the entrance to the Writers’ Studio (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
The Writers’ Studio (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
The Writers’ Studio (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
A meeting room with a view of The Plaza at 300 Ashland (Photo: Nathan Haselby)
A Don DeLillo quote by the door to the terrace (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

Also located in a quiet corner on the upper level is The Writers’ Studio, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with views of BAM, 15 shared desks, lockers, WiFi, and a wireless printer. For $225 a month, writers receive the same benefits as membership plus use of a stocked kitchenette and full access to the Center from 6am to 1am daily.

The Center for Fiction is the only literary facility in the country devoted solely to the genre. Founded in 1820 as The New York Mercantile Library in lower Manhattan, the Center was originally a lending library for mercantile workers. The Library moved multiple times over the years to different locations across Manhattan, with trustees building a new eight-story home for the facility at 17 East 47th Street in 1932. The Mercantile Library rebranded as The Center for Fiction in 2008 and later sold its building on East 47th Street.

Busts and vintage card catalogues on the Center’s second level (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

The Center for Fiction moved out of the East 47th Street building in December 2017 and staff worked from a temporary location at 80 5th Avenue near Union Square while the library collection sat in storage until December 2018. The team is now busy unpacking the thousands of titles and settling into their new home in the Brooklyn Cultural District.

On Tuesday, February 19, The Center for Fiction will celebrate the grand opening of its new location with a party from 7pm to 9:30pm. The event will feature live music, door prizes, an open bar, and food provided by local vendors including Ample Hills, Alamo Drafthouse, Brooklyn Brewery, and Die Stammkneipe. All proceeds from the $35 tickets will support the Center’s KidsRead /KidsWrite program. Click here for tickets.


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