At the foot of a seven-story granite arch in the middle of a busy traffic circle in Brooklyn, New York, a scuffed yellow door opens once a week to a scene that's straight out of a children's storybook.

Draped over dull gray boxes of electrical equipment is a Mother Earth puppet with a face the size of a manhole cover. A dragon made of blue garbage bags snakes down a circular staircase.

They peer from alcoves and hang from the ceiling; floor after floor of enormous puppets, including kid-size, grinning white carousel horses. The best part of it: The puppets are part of the New York Puppet Library and they can be checked out -- for two weeks. The puppets really belong to a group called the Puppeteers Cooperative. People use them for parties, parades and political rallies.

The library is open every Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dozens have taken out puppets. Other grown-ups and kids come just to look and play.

On a recent Saturday, 11 people clustered in a narrow room to watch puppeteer Theresa Linnihan play poet Emily Dickinson in a shadow-puppet version of "The Belle of Amherst."

Downstairs, volunteer puppeteer Arnie Lippin helped 22-year-old Melanie Chopko into an enormous backpack puppet in long black robes. Chopko staggered back and forth beneath the arch, waving the puppet's arms as people shopped at a farmer's market across the plaza.

"It seems to be taking off," Linnihan said. "Everyone who comes and discovers it is thrilled."

-- Associated Press

Theresa Linnihan performs "The Belle of Amherst" with shadow puppets at the New York Puppet Library.Jeffrey Naimoli and his son, Adam, help attach a backpack puppet to another New York Puppet Library visitor. The Brooklyn library allows people to use puppets for up to two weeks.