Helping Homeless New Yorkers by the Books

A little after 10 a.m. on a humid Thursday in June, a fan is already whirring in the Bedford Avenue branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The building has just opened, but already people are pushing through the doors and posting up at computer stations or tables on the mezzanine. Many will stay put all day.

The library, just down the block from a clanging subway station in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, is a salve for the chafing street noise and the heat. There’s nothing to buy, no time limit, no implication that you’ve overstayed your welcome. The airy, 17,000-square-foot space is a comfortable homeroom for people with nowhere else to be.