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Governor Whitman Signs
NJ State Library Bill
At Hasbrouck Heights Library



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News Article as appeared in The Herald & News Thursday, August 19, 1999, Section B, pages 1 & 5

Libraries Get $45M for
Improvement Projects

By Brendan January

Hasbrouck Heights: Public librarians say they are experts at doing so much with so little for so long.

But they received a bounty from the state Wednesday afternoon, when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman signed a bill at the Free Library that will grant $45 million to libraries around the state for improvement projects.

The bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Rose Heck, R-Lodi, and Assemblyman Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon, said that the bill fulfills a pressing need.

"The library board took a poll of 120 libraries," said Heck, "and they had $120 million worth of projects that needed to be completed."

"Most of our libraries are outmoded, undersized, and out of date," said State Librarian Jack Livingstone. "We need to make libraries accessible to Americans with disabilities."

The grants are earmarked for construction and renovation, not the acquisition of books or multimedia material. The fund will give one dollar for every three raised by a community. New Jersey has 315 public libraries with approximately 450 buildings.

The explosive growth in Internet technology is forcing libraries to revise their use of space.

Robert White, Executive Director of the Bergen County Cooperative System, explained that libraries were originally built to store books. Now, he said, libraries are community centers where people come to meet and use the Internet. That means that libraries need more space for parking, sitting and for computers.

"Libraries are the information provider for the community," he said. "And the PCs are getting bigger."

Patricia Tumulty, the executive director of the New Jersey Library Association, said the last time money was made available for library construction was in 1990.

"There was a pent-up demand," she said. "Librarians always asked me if there was any grant money available for construction."

Livingstone said Whitman will appoint an advisory committee by end of August to start considering applications.

 

The Free Library of Hasbrouck Heights will be moving once a new library is completed. Construction will begin at the beginning of next year.

"We absolutely will apply for funds," said library director Michele Maiullo. "We'll be first on line."

Local library directors also said that they would apply for funds for various projects.

"We have been looking to close the balcony and make it into a meeting room," said Lodi Memorial Library Director Anthony Taormina. "It's new money and it's well needed. The demand on our services has never been greater."

In Garfield, director Macarthur Nickles said the funds could be used for a much needed expansion.

"It would provide additional shelving, quiet space and a room for computer instruction," he said.





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