June 3, 2020
In an unprecedented time of stress and resilience, many Brooklynites are at the front lines of responding to the coronavirus crisis, and many more are encountering a new normal, as we adjust to changing work, education, housing, and even access to basic amenities. Listen to stories from people across the borough as part of our ongoing local oral history archive.
May 13, 2020
In 1943, Brooklyn Public Library launched its first radio program, in partnership with WNYC. “Folk Songs for the Seven Million,” written and produced by Elaine Lambert Lewis, documented folk songs and stories from around the country and collected folk traditions from everyday Brooklynites. On this episode, we pay tribute to our audio ancestor.
April 22, 2020
Earth Day is here, but a lot of us are inside. On this episode of Borrowed, we gather sounds of the natural world from the stoops and parks of Brooklyn, and we look back at the first Earth Day fifty years ago, and ask what it means for us today.
April 1, 2020
The census doesn’t just distribute representatives in congress and billions of dollars in federal funds—it determines city bus routes, how many garbage cans are on your block, and whether a grocery store opens in your neighborhood. Filling out the census is one of the most powerful ways to use your voice.
March 17, 2020
Working from home? Kids at home? The library is here for you! We’ve got virtual resources galore to help you keep a healthy social distance during the coronavirus outbreak. Check out eBooks & Audiobooks: Attend virtual story time and more: Read newspapers and magazines for free, and learn from home, whether you’re a kid or an adult!
March 3, 2020
Listen to three Brooklynites talk about their personal connections to places across the borough. We’ll hear from a Walt Whitman scholar at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, an LGBTQ activist in Brighton Beach, and one of Biggie’s biggest fans on a block in Clinton Hill. Plus, come hang out with us at Central Library’s first ever night of podcasting on March 14! RSVP:
February 18, 2020
If you’re a kid or if you take care of a kid, chances are you use the library a lot. Listen in on some creative ways that libraries are engaging with children and their caregivers, from writing workshops just for caregivers to classes that help patrons open daycare centers in their own homes.
February 4, 2020
For our first ever live show, we went back to the basics and talked about books! Listen to our librarians as they match audience members to books on the spot, reveal what, in fact, is the real number-one-checked-out-book in Brooklyn and recommend their favorite reads of 2019. This episode was recorded during the Brooklyn Podcast Festival at Union Hall on January 26.
January 23, 2020
Andrew Carnegie has a classic rags-to-riches story: an immigrant turned steel magnate who financed the construction of 2,500 public library buildings worldwide, including 21 in Brooklyn. But, his labor policies often hurt the people his libraries served. We dig into Carnegie’s complicated legacy, with a special appearance from the Bowery Boys! Listen to their companion episode here:
January 21, 2020
We’re getting in your ears to tell you about our first ever live recording of Borrowed! It’s free, at 5pm on Sunday, January 26 at Union Hall, as a part of Brooklyn Podcast Festival (event details here: And, we’re collaborating with The Bowery Boys on an episode about Andrew Carnegie’s complicated legacy. That will come out on our feed and theirs (
January 1, 2020
To ring in the new year, take a dive into the stories of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. We hear from voices from across New York City—a cop speaking openly about his wife's drug addiction, recent Russian immigrants looking for tradition, and a mother mourning her daughter's death—who all have their own reasons for jumping into the freezing ocean every Sunday.
December 24, 2019
Perhaps Brooklyn’s most iconic neighborhood is Bedford-Stuyvesant. The tree-lined streets and grand brownstones have been here for over 150 years, while the Brooklynites who call those brownstones home are constantly changing. In this episode, we tell the story of this neighborhood through the lives of three women who set down roots there in different ways: activist Hattie Carthan, writer Paule Marshall, and novelist Naomi Jackson.
December 10, 2019
At the edge of Brooklyn, there’s a beach covered with glass bottles, nylon stockings, rusting kitchen appliances, and decaying batteries. The trash didn’t float here, though. It’s eroding from a poorly-covered landfill. We start this episode at Dead Horse Bay, where we ask what trash can tell us about structures of power, and end the episode in 1960s Bed-Stuy, where the local Civil Rights Movement took on a surprising enemy: garbage collection.
November 26, 2019
We're talking trash at the library today. Specifically, the story of a 3,000-ton garbage barge that made a scene in Brooklyn in the 1980s… and, we ask what happens to library books when they get too old. Finally, we take a trip to East Harlem, where one sanitation worker spent 30 years creating an archive of New Yorkers' trash.
November 12, 2019
Four hundred years later, this country has yet to reckon with the legacy of slavery. And that is no less true for Brooklyn. This episode, we’re taking a cue from The 1619 Project and telling important stories about the struggle for freedom, from a young girl “auctioned” at Plymouth Church in 1860 to the story of Crown Heights’s Weeksville as a site of resistance and power before the Civil War.
October 29, 2019
It’s not an uncommon experience to be unstably housed in this country. From Brooklyn to San Francisco, communities often turn to public libraries for valuable information, social services and for a safe and comfortable place to be. This episode, we listen to stories of patrons experiencing homelessness, and ask how the library could be better when it comes to creating a sense of home for everyone.
October 15, 2019
Libraries are truly amazing no matter where you go. This season on Borrowed, we’re going to celebrate that, and bring you stories that challenge your idea of the public library, and of Brooklyn, too.
July 16, 2019
Immigration is a pressing topic in our political landscape right now, with concerns about ICE raids and immigration bans. In this episode, we listen to inspiring stories of recent asylees, the case for more bilingual librarians, and what the library means when we say “American.”
July 2, 2019
There’s something about Brooklyn that makes you want to write. “Everything is alive here,” says poet Mahogany L. Browne. And thank goodness we have writers to capture that. In this episode, we share an interview with Mahogany Browne and Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang, plus a story about the classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
June 18, 2019
Kairi Hollon tried to go to the library when he was a teenager in Brooklyn in the 1980s, but he kept getting kicked out. Years later, he came back to the library and started to create spaces just for teens. We’ll listen in on a Dungeons & Dragons game in Mill Basin, a teen party at Central, and learn how video games are changing the library.
June 4, 2019
From “the most expensive pigeon roost in the world” to one of the world’s most unique libraries, Brooklyn’s Central Library has many stories to tell. We’ll dive into the history of Central Library, and bring you stories of small businesses, fashion shows, and one patron’s path from homelessness to determined author.
May 21, 2019
It turns out that libraries weren’t always so friendly toward children. That started to change around the turn of the 20th century, thanks to a librarian who is pretty much unknown today. We're taking a field trip to a library truck in the Flatlands, a story time at Central, and to Brownsville in 1914...
May 7, 2019
Sometimes, in the wake of natural disasters, the library becomes an information center, a shelter and a community space. We travel to Coney Island, Red Hook, and Puerto Rico to learn about how neighbors come together after a storm, and how libraries can help.
April 23, 2019
Online search engines are basically universal, so questions at the library reference desk are changing. We follow the story of one question, “I want to know how I can be happy,” and learn about how libraries are keeping up with the needs of the community.
April 9, 2019
“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” So goes the quote from librarian Jo Godwin. From Dr. Seuss to kosher books to Drag Queen Story Hour, this episode will explore what it means to challenge censorship, and what happens when patrons disagree with content in the library.
March 26, 2019
Preserving history is about more than battling mold and disintegration. We took a trip to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to learn about how an environmental disaster propelled residents into action, and how the public library is archiving the neighborhood’s past and present.
March 12, 2019
Books on conveyor belts, book vacuums and books in the mail. This episode of “Borrowed” will take you behind the scenes to see how books travel around the boroughs, from Long Island City to Bensonhurst to your bedside table.
February 21, 2019
Brooklyn has so many stories to tell, and a lot of them start at the library. Every other week, “Borrowed” brings you stories that start here and take you somewhere new. Brought to you by Brooklyn Public Library. Our first episode launches March 12.
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