In November 2001, the NJ State Library approved the Bergenfield Public Library’s grant application for its major expansion. Almost $745,000 was awarded to the Library in construction grant funds, or 22.5% of the project. The official groundbreaking occurred in November 2003. After a lengthy construction period, on June 12, 2005, the newly renovated and expanded Bergenfield Library was formally dedicated.
This expansion added 13,665 square feet to the existing building, nearly doubling the building’s usable space. Though the expansion occurred more than a decade ago, the positive effects of this massive project are still felt on a daily basis. Here are some examples:
- The creation of a separate activity room in the Children’s area
This allows Children’s staff to plan and execute their own dedicated slate of programming. Early literacy, music and drama programs like our “Mother Goose Story Time” and “Magical Melodies” are held throughout the year and the added space ensures that we don’t have to turn any resident away due to space constraints. This space also encourages patrons to linger – parents can sit and chat while children play happily nearby with the Library’s books, toys, games, puzzles and Legos. Children’s materials account for 40% of the Library’s overall circulation so it is crucial that Youth Services collections are given ample browsing room and opportunity to be cultivated.
- The addition of a separate Teen area on the first floor
Due to its close proximity to the local Middle and High Schools, the Library is a common destination for teens and tweens during weekday afternoons. During especially colder weather, it is not uncommon to have close to 150 young adults in the building. Our Teen Area has dedicated staffing who plan weekly engaging and fun afterschool programs like video game club, themed movie series, crafts and more. These activities encourage young adults to make responsible decisions and teaches them to enjoy their Library in a safe and respectful way.
- The creation of a dedicated tutoring space for English as a Second Language students
In a community as diverse as Bergenfield, our ESL program fills a critical void. Established in 1980, our ESL program has helped thousands of students strengthen their reading and writing comprehension skills, which has helped them obtain employment as well as their US citizenship.
The difference our ESL program has made on the community over the past 30+ years is truly immeasurable, both for the students as well as the tutors. The expanded ESL space has allowed us to train more volunteers and retain more students. We are also able to offer weekly tutoring sessions and group conversation classes.
This expansion gave the Bergenfield Public Library some desperately needed breathing room. As one of the more populated towns in Bergen County, we experience high foot traffic seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Having an adequate amount of space gives everyone an opportunity to access the Library and feel physically comfortable while they are in the building. Libraries in general are meant to be inclusive and inviting spaces. As a result of the Construction Bond grant, our renovation helped make that possible.
Allison Moonitz, Director
Bergenfield Public Library