The Cranbury Public Library can now use municipal parking spaces on Park Place West as a temporary location for library operations after receiving authorization from the Cranbury Township Committee.
The township committee approved the temporary measure through a resolution at an Aug. 10 committee meeting. Committee members will have to review this particular authorization again in 2021, according to the resolution.
The public library had to vacate its shared space location in the Cranbury School by Aug. 15 after the Cranbury Board of Education needed the space adapted into a classroom location to adhere to state guidelines for reopening schools.
“We are moving out of the school this week. We have a moving company coming on Thursday and Friday. We will get everything out. We might have to store it with a moving company, but we will be out of the school by Aug. 15,” said Kirstie Venanzi, president of the Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees. “There might be this interim time where we are finalizing the downtown portion of our temporary location. It is our goal to get the curbside service up and running as soon as possible.”
The public library had shared the location within the school building since the 1960s.
“The library was sort of scrambling for a place to set up and needed to do it relatively quickly because they are going to be out of the Cranbury School building on Aug. 15. We found a space for them on Park Place West,” Mayor Matt Scott said.
Part of the library would operate out of a temporary trailer at the new location which sits on a portion of a lot owned by the Cranbury Housing Associates (CHA). CHA offered the location to the public library. The library is currently looking at contracts for a temporary trailer for the Park Place West downtown location in the range of anywhere from 18 months to two years.
“We may have to slow down that process a little bit and make sure our “I”s are dotted and “T”s are crossed,” Venazi said.
That portion of the lot the library will use is subject to a parking easement dedicated to Cranbury Township for about eight public parking spaces, according to the resolution.
“Going down Park Place West there is a little building on the right that has a ‘For Rent’ sign, just beyond that there is a driveway that goes to the back of the post office and there is a chain link fence,” she said. “The location is against that chain link fence. It would not be going into the road way at all it would just be back against that fence.”
The public library will be operating out of two different locations once the library vacates the school. The first location is a back office at an office park that will not be open to the public on 109 South Main St. The second location will be downtown on Park Place West.
“If it works out we would be doing curbside service on Park Place West. We also have a lease on a place at 109 South Main St. It is a brick office park,” Venazi said. “The back office at the office park will house most of our books, back office items, and some computers, but we wanted to have a presence downtown so this place on Park Place West was identified for us.”
The temporary trailer in downtown will be the front office location for the public library and contain the libraries most popular circulating books.
“Right now, Gov. Phil Murphy is allowing curbside service for public libraries and even allowing some libraries to have 25% occupancy. With a trailer that would be hard to regulate and we have to worry about our staff. We will have one or two staff members at a time at the trailer when it is up and running,” Venazi said. “We will have some of our most popular circulating books and maybe a lot of newer ones will be there. When things do open up a little bit more, we foresee one or two people coming in at a time for reference questions and to browse new books.”
The library leadership will continue to implement a reopening plan as the state loosens up restrictions for libraries and also await news on their application for a portion of the $125 million from the Library Construction Bond Act.
“We are looking forward to September when we receive news about funding from the state Library Construction Bond Act for a standalone library,” Venazi said. “I do feel we are moving forward. I am very positive. It is a whirlwind though until everything is settled.”