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Cranbury Public Library will relocate to North Main Street this week

Odd Fellows Hall at 30 N Main St. in Cranbury.

Cranbury Public Library will now have a new temporary location downtown for library operations.

The library has officially signed a lease to run library operations out of the Odd Fellows Hall at 30 N. Main St., which is also the home of PCB Home, a home décor and goods store.

“PCB Home is not going anywhere. The library is renting only the first floor,” said Kirstie Venanzi, president of the Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees.

Within the next few weeks the new location is to be operational for curbside service and become essentially the library’s front office for the next two years.

“The board gave Library Director Marilynn Mullen, board member Fred Dennehy, and I permission to pursue renting one floor in what we call the Odd Fellows Hall,” Venanzi said. “Move in day is Nov. 3-4 and we do not officially open up for curbside there until Nov. 9.”

When the library is actually able to open to the public for in-person services there will be barrier-free access for when operations move beyond curbside service for books. Until then, the library will continue with online programming and discussions and curbside service.

“What we are offering now in one location with more consistent hours. One of the added benefits is that one of things we have in storage include our more highly circulated books,” Venanzi added. “This is really going to allow us to offer library services as much as we feel we can at this point in time. When conditions allow we do hope to allow people back to browse, but that is down the road.”

The library has already conducted its first socially distanced in-person story hour.

The location downtown will be one of two location areas in town for the library. Operations have already been operating out of a back office location at an office park not open to the public on 109 S. Main St. Additionally, in late September, the library also partnered with the Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society to provide limited library services from the history center.

“They were very kind to accommodate us in their meeting room and they will get the space back. It really helped us in a pinch. We will still be continuing a partnership with them and help them with their archives and having access to their historical records,” Venanzi said.

The library’s Board of Trustees have been working on finding temporary locations to conduct library business in since having to leave a shared space with the Cranbury School by Aug. 15. The location at the school is being utilized as additional classroom space for the school.

“The difficulty of finding a new space was a little bit of a surprise. At each point we thought we had a location set, but 30 days is not a long time to plan,” she added. “About that time, we realized, OK, we have to not just decide on one place, we have to pursue a couple places at the same time, maybe even three. We went over this list multiple times and certain ones would move to the top. It was a little bit more complicated than anticipated, but are very thankful that the new location worked out.”

Other potential locations explored included using township office space in Town Hall which fell through; two locations for a temporary trailer for a pocket library to operate on Park Place West, one was a portion of the lot owned by the Cranbury Housing Associates (CHA) and the other township land on the designated future stand-alone public library parking lot; and First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury and Historical and Preservation Society were looked at as locations.

The Old Firehouse was also seen as a potential location, but the Cranbury Volunteer Fire Company had voiced objections to the firehouse as an option. Due to the pushback the library’s leadership no longer pursued it as an option.

“I am relieved and thankful that we were able to find something in the center of town. That was something we thought was very important. This is just another reason to bring people to the center of town and the community,” Venanzi said.

While the library is in its new temporary location, the plan is expected to continue for a new library to be constructed on township-owned land after funding has been secured. The 14-acre parcel is at Park Place West and is within walking distance from the Cranbury School.

“We really do plan on moving forward with our space for the new library. We are hoping for the state grant. We should have news on the grant soon for the Park Place West location,” Venanzi said.

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