Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

The Brooklyn Public Library Celebrates 125 Years of Service and BK Pride With New, Reclaimed Art Piece

The Brooklyn Public Library unveiled a new sculpture, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” at its Brooklyn Heights location for its 125th anniversary.
Jean Shin's sculpture at the Brooklyn Heights Library. Photo by Gregg Richards/BPL.

A new hanging sculpture titled “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” has been unveiled at the Brooklyn Heights Public Library, celebrating more than 125 years of the Brooklyn Public Library, reports The Brooklyn Paper. The piece, created by Brooklyn-based artist Jean Shin, is made entirely of denim and recycled tech donated by patrons and librarians.

The sculpture, resembling an inverted tree, is the final addition to the new Brooklyn Heights Library, which opened to the public last summer. The leaves in the sculpture are made with denim-wrapped metal and light components, while electric cords are wrapped in long strips of deconstructed clothing to form the tree’s roots, trunk and limbs. And when seen from below, the contours of the leaves form the map of Brooklyn; each leaf represents a zip code and a neighborhood where Brooklyn Public Library has its local branches.

"With 'Something Borrowed, Something Blue,' Shin pays homage to public library service in Brooklyn, to the countless individuals who have walked through our doors seeking knowledge, and to more than a billion books borrowed over the last 125 years,” Linda E. Johnson, BPL president and CEO, said in a statement. “Moreover, this beautiful and imaginative piece of art will inspire and uplift a new generation of library patrons for years to come."

Shin’s artistic practice continually focuses on trees and nature, as the symbolism of trees — and this tree in particular — symbolize wisdom due to their use in producing paper and books. In addition to this, the piece’s donated materials represent the library's mission to serve its patrons and bridge the educational gap and digital divide. 

And drawing on the old wedding rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue,” Shin re-imagined the rhyme to match the library’s mission statement.  “Something old” signifies the donated tech pieces; “something new,” is in reference to the droves of knowledge that define the library; “something borrowed,” are the books, of course; and “something blue,” the blue color of the materials used, reflecting the blue of the library’s logo.  

​​“Brooklyn has been my home for the past 30 years and I love its libraries,” Shin said. “They are truly special public spaces integrated within each neighborhood, nourishing the curious minds and hearts of our community.  I am proud to contribute this work along the rich literary traditions and creative force that defines Brooklyn.”