MIDDLETOWN – A century of service to the community by the Middletown Township Public Library is being celebrated by the Township Committee, whose members passed a resolution saluting the organization.
During a meeting on May 17, Mayor Tony Perry, Deputy Mayor Rick Hibell, Committeewoman Patricia Snell, Committeeman Kevin Settembrino and Committeeman Ryan Clarke honored the institution that was created on June 4, 1921.
A resolution passed by the committee members states that “a group of civic-minded residents appointed as trustees by the Township Committee, responding to the needs of the growing community, organized and opened the public library with donations of over 4,000 books from the community, and with a donation from a friend of the State Librarian who gave $5,000 and $1,000 each year after that to buy new books, on June 4, 1921.”
To serve what was then a rural community, “a book truck was constructed for $1,000, with a route driven by first librarian Dorothy Norton that covered 160 miles; this traveling library was the first in the state,” according to the resolution.
Eventually, the library’s collections grew to the point that a 26,000-square-foot building was constructed on 6 acres at 55 New Monmouth Road. The building was expanded to 39,000 square feet in 2003.
According to the resolution, the library “engages the lives of its patrons with an average of over 617,000 items a year circulated, and 70,000 people attend over 1,600 programs in a year.”
“This is a very exciting milestone for the library,” Perry said. “It is unbelievable that the library is going to be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.”
Library Director Heather Andolsen said, “We have had so much support … to be here for 100 years, and especially in the last year (during the coronavirus pandemic). We hope to be here for another 100 years.”
On June 2, the library will mark the milestone with an all-day celebration of its past, present and future, unveiling a time capsule from 1971 and burying a new time capsule to be opened in 50 years, according to a press release.
At 10 a.m., attendees including local and state dignitaries will preview the contents of the 50-year-old time capsule and take part in a ceremonial burial of a new time capsule.
At 4 p.m., the community is invited to attend a family friendly event which will include activities for all ages. The contents of the 1971 time capsule will be revealed. An old-fashioned ice cream truck will offer free ice cream to the first 100 attendees.
Families will be able to travel through a “Middletown Public Library Birthday Celebration” obstacle course, take home a “Dear Future Me” DIY time capsule box, visit craft tables, explore a virtual museum and enjoy a special story in the Story Walk, according to the press release.
“This is a very special year for our library,” Andolsen said. “For our centennial, we want to look back at where we started while we also appreciate how far the library has come in 100 years. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn about our past, celebrate our present and look ahead to our future.”
“The library has been a staple in our community for decades and a beacon of light
during some difficult times,” Perry said. “Celebrating 100 years, especially after the eventful year we have all experienced, is truly an accomplishment. I encourage our community to use our library’s diverse resources and join me in celebrating its rich history.”