New Jersey Announces Proposed Recipients of Library Construction Bond Act

By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — On November 5, Governor Phil Murphy signed off on financially aiding public libraries throughout New Jersey with $125 million in state bonds.

The bond was voted on by New Jerseyans three years ago in November 2017. Out of that $125 million, $87.5 million will be distributed to 16 counties in the state. The set of counties were selected out of 129 applicants. The selection process was completed by a group of State agencies such as the Jersey Economic Development Authority, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Community Affairs, the New Jersey Treasury, and the New Jersey Historical Commission.

“From major building renovations to vital technology upgrades, this bond program will transform our libraries to better serve and be more accessible to their local communities,” Gov. Murphy said in a press release. “I want to thank the State Librarian and President Hancock at Thomas Edison State University, as well as our partner agencies, on their collaborative work toward this effort.”

Funding for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning, along with other enhancements pertaining to the library environment, will be provided to Freehold, Monroe Township, Ringwood, River Edge, the city of Bridgeton, South Brunswick, and Totowa.

Expect the Bernardsville, Red Bank, Dover, Fanwood, Leonia, Cape May County Library, Avon-by-the-Sea, and Garfield libraries to invest their funds to make the experiences of those who may have disabilities more accommodating. These libraries will also invest in adjustments to meet the AFA requirements as well.

The remaining counties will receive technological upgrades. The benefactors of these upgrades include Cranbury Township, Franklin Township, Jersey City, Maplewood Township, Pennsauken Township, Roselle Borough, Sussex, and Monmouth County Libraries. The upgraded tech will be focused on making public information more accessible and improve spacing to adjust to the times.

Any ethnically diverse communities like Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany, where a third of its citizens were born outside of the United States, will receive funding as well.

“New Jersey libraries continue to respond to the needs of our communities and are working tirelessly to bridge the digital divide and keep residents connected to many critical services which have become all the more essential in recent months,” Mary Chute, New Jersey’s State Librarian, said in a release. “We are eager to see local libraries break ground on these much-needed projects, which will make library facilities safer, more efficient, and more accessible for all people.”

Funding will begin after the Library Construction Bond Act is approved by the Legislature. The second increment of funds will be distributed in the first quarter of 2021.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.