This blog would be nothing without the Brooklyn Collection. The staff have been so thoughtful and patient with me over the last fifteen months, helping me find obscure newspaper clippings, teaching me how to read fire-insurance maps, and eventually letting me dig around the archives on my own.
In a loss to researchers around the borough, the chief of the Brooklyn Collection, Dr. Joy Holland, is retiring. (Read her humorous sionara post here.) Her colleagues saw her off in style yesterday in the basement of the main branch. In addition to other librarians and staff, a few Brooklyn historians were in attendance: Brian Merlis, John Manbeck, and Ron Schweiger, among others.
One memory I have of Joy stands far above the rest: it revolves around an as-yet-unsettled neighborhood debate. Last June, I asked the @Brooklynology Twitter handle (the staff rotates through) if someone would be willing to pick my next neighborhood. Someone agreed.
Instead of pulling a neighborhood out of my hat, however, when I arrived, I found that Joy had selected Greenwood Heights, her home neighborhood, for me. She had also laid out all of the folders in the archives for my perusal. Very thoughtful!
Just one problem: Greenwood Heights, as you’ll recognize, is not on the list. I consider it a real-estate contrivance; Joy told me she liked the name for valuation reasons! Over the following year, we enjoyed many lively discussions on this topic.
There’s plenty left to be discovered on Brooklyn’s history, but there are also plenty of pianos to be played. Joy gave us a concert before the wine was uncorked. I imagine she will spend much time on this pursuit in the years to come – and on the others she mentioned in her farewell.
Best of luck, Joy, and thanks for everything!