The moving trailer transporting the sketchbooks of the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project caught fire en route from Brooklyn to St. Petersburg, Florida. The fire occurred in Baltimore, Maryland; many of the books suffered damage, but fortunately no one was harmed in the horrific truck fire.

Just this winter, the Brooklyn Art Library announced that it will close its physical location on Frost Street and move its sketchbooks to various curated locations around the country, mobilizing the Sketchbook Project and letting more readers encounter these special works. At the time of last month’s interview, Executive Director of The Sketchbook Project Jenna Carrens said, “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.”

The Brooklyn Art Library released information on the tragic fire in a press release and on Instagram, noting that the heroic help of volunteers, firefighters, and community members from a local church allowed The Sketchbook Project to move each box to safety from the fiery scene.

At this time, the Brooklyn Art Library team estimates that 70% of the Sketchbook Project’s books were salvaged but also noted that some 7,000 books and supplies have been lost in the fire.

The Sketchbook Project has created a fire relief fund on GoFundMe to help rebuild, setting a goal of $50,000. On that fundraiser’s webpage, the Brooklyn Art Library wrote, “We need your help. The loss of each sketchbook is unimaginable, but to lose the spirit of the collection and the mission of the project’s creative community we have spent years cultivating would be even worse. At this devastating moment, we are asking our community to please consider donating to help us right now to rebuild our platform.”


Join the Conversation


  1. This is heartbreaking news. On Wednesday I had recommended the library to a Georgetown U professor who keeps a diary with sketches. I was hoping he could make a sketchbook for the library.

  2. And why would the Brookly Art Library WANT to move its creation to Florida of all places? Would more readers actually “encounter” these workks down there as opposed to our vibrabt city of 8 million, whiich apparently can’t afford to hold on to them –or care for them. Maybe they want to specialize in NFT art? Can’t NYC afford to hold on to and exhibit its art works? Inept leadership?

  3. As someone that paid money to submit a sketchbook and have yet to receive information since September that it was digitized as it was supposed to be, I am disheartened that nothing was sent out to those of us that had submitted a sketchbook about this. Why no notification??

  4. Very sad news! I was late to send in my sketchbook but am now relieved that I didn’t. I realise that presumably once the sketchbooks arrive, they then become the property of Brooklyn Sketchbook Library and that gives them rights over what happens to them. I am disappointed though that I only recently learned about all this. And, what about how many people including me had paid extra to have our sketchbooks digitised but now that is not possible – at least for some time if at all. I do however wish the staff all the best in sourcing funds. Liz – UK

  5. Tragic. However, as someone who submitted in September 2020, and received notice that a book would “soon” be digitized in November 2021? That was supposedly sitting on the desk of a vacationing employee (a year later?) and would be digitized within a few weeks (??). It was not. Not super pleased with the management of this relatively pricey project.
    Highly recommend NOT sending any money to this organization. Understaffed and a poor management decision to move the collection to Florida, of all places. Glad no one was hurt. But save your $$.

  6. My 82 year old husbands sketchbook burned in that fire. It was destroyed. WE were offered another sketchbook to try to remake his project but haven’t received the blank sketchbook yet. It is a sad thing to lose such art. We are sorry for all like us that lost irreplaceable work.
    Carol M

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