GLEN RIDGE, NJ — One year ago, the Glen Ridge Public Library applied for a grant from the N.J. Construction Bond Act, which was passed by New Jersey voters in November 2017 to support public libraries in providing modern and technologically efficient library facilities in a one-to-one match. Unfortunately, the Glen Ridge Public Library was among the 91 libraries not selected for funding in the first round, but when a second round was announced by the N.J. State Library in March, Glen Ridge Library Director Jennifer Breuer knew the library had to apply again.
“We are happy for the 38 libraries who received construction grants in the first round, but knew we would reapply when the second round was announced,” Breuer said. “We received a copy of our scoring and we ranked very well. The library board of trustees and I are hopeful that our project will be even more competitive this time.”
The original grant application requested funds for an expanded young adult area with more seating and programming space; a private study room for four to six people; a second unisex handicapped-accessible public bathroom; and 45 outdoor lockers for patrons to pick up material at any time. These lockers would be housed in a kiosk located in the front plaza, which would also fix the library’s aging and deteriorating retaining wall.
“After we did not receive funding in the first round, the Friends of the Glen Ridge Library approached the library board of trustees and offered to pay for the locker project,” Breuer said. “This will be a tremendous gift to the community because access is so important to public libraries. By providing 24/7 access to held material, the library can ensure that everyone has access to material regardless of the day or time. We estimate the cost of this project will be $150,000.”
Since COVID, libraries have had to find new ways to serve their communities. Several libraries have already installed locker systems, including Hoboken, Fair Lawn and Washington Township.
“We have heard from those libraries that the lockers have been a great service addition and well-received by their patrons,” Breuer said, adding that the library expects the locker project to start in early fall.
The current estimated cost of the project is $494,723 with a grant request of $247,361. The remaining funding of the project would come from several sources, including capital reserves, Friends of the Glen Ridge Library and a bond from the borough of Glen Ridge. The library continues to work with the architectural firm Daniel Kopec Architectural Design for the grant’s scope of work and Friends of the Glen Ridge Library have engaged DKAD for the locker project as well.
“We are really satisfied with the plan developed by DKAD,” Breuer said. “It provides flexibility, meets all of our needs and does not affect the integrity of our beautiful library. Dan Kopec has been tremendous throughout this process and the board and I have enjoyed working with him immensely.”
The second round grant awards should be announced in the fall and, if GRPL wins a grant, the library plans to start work right away.