The Brooklyn Art Library has held its home on Frost Street for over a decade, offering writers and artists a space to host their sketchbooks in perpetuity and show them to visitors from around the world. However, as Greenpointers reported recently, Brooklyn Art Library will soon close its physical location.

Executive Director of The Sketchbook Project Jenna Carrens knows how much this initiative means to the community, and she asserts, “We love Brooklyn — we are planning a Brooklyn residency and won’t be gone for long.”

Still, the prospect of a floating and more mobile Sketchbook Project does mean partners across the country will house installments of the 60,000 sketchbooks in the library’s collection. Here, Carrens speaks to Greenpointers about these shifting tides, and what lies on the horizon.

Greeenpointers: First, I want to check in: I’m sure this is a hectic time, and we know how hard our beloved small businesses work, and have worked, especially during the pandemic. How are you and the staff doing?

Jenna Carrens: We’re all staying safe and healthy while feeling really excited about this pivot into a more sustainable model for The Sketchbook Project. 

Thank you for sharing the news about closing the physical library space. It couldn’t have been an easy decision. Still, it’s great that the collection of 60,000 sketchbooks will find new homes. How are you curating where those books will go?

We’re currently working with partners across the country to host rotating installments of the unique sketchbooks in our collection through extended residency programs that engage broad and diverse audiences, work closely with local artistic communities, and create experiences reflective of the spaces we inhabit.

Our current prospects include everything from museums to libraries to community centers. We’ll curate books based upon the needs and interests of that particular community we will hold residence in.

Is the intention that after this month the BAL operate in an online-only capacity (in partnership with the locations where sketchbooks will eventually live), or is there a search for a future permanent home?

We will have a production and office facility and will continue to operate online, but the physical collection will permanently be on tour through our long term residency programs. You can still participate in The Sketchbook Project like normal, the only difference is now your book will travel.

On a more personal note, this space and its efforts means so much to the neighborhood. Do you have any anecdotes or words to share about what it has meant to be a part of this community — on Frost Street, and beyond?

We love Brooklyn and have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this incredible creative community. Don’t worry, we are planning a Brooklyn residency and won’t be gone for long. Sign up for our newsletter for updates and read our full letter to the community for more info on our pivot.  

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