The year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS) will culminate in October with a collection of activities, programs and events designed to mark the important milestone.
The festivities will kick off on Oct. 2 with a special celebration at the Main Library in Westampton, where visitors will be able to explore the library’s spectacular 100-year history, from its origin as New Jersey’s first county library through its growth and expansion into the modern system residents rely upon today, with a History Walk display of archived photos, documents, artifacts and more, according to information provided by the county.
After touring the library’s history, guests will take a step back in time to the 1920s with a performance by Svetlana and the Delancey Five.
Registration is required for this event, which is hosted by the Burlington County Library Commission and the Burlington County Library System Foundation with sponsorship in part by First Harvest, PSE&G and TD Bank.
To register online, visit https://bcls-nj.libcal.com/event/8302623 .
“One hundred years is a huge milestone and we’re thrilled to have Svetlana and the Delancey Five here to help us kick off a systemwide celebration that will feature a variety of special anniversary programs and events at the Main Library and branches,” BCLS Director Ranjna Das said in the statement. “The BCLS was founded to serve as a repository of knowledge for our communities and we want our entire county to be able to come together and celebrate this special anniversary.”
“Not many things last 100 years so the foundation wanted to do something special to mark the occasion,” BCLS Foundation President Patricia Lindsay-Harvey said in the statement. “We are delighted to bring Svetlana and the Delancey Five to the library to help us celebrate this milestone and swing in the start of the library’s next century.”
The library and History Walk display will open at 1 p.m. for the special event and the program and concert will begin at 1:45 p.m. in the library auditorium.
During the event all library services will be closed.
The other special events and programs celebrating BCLS’s centennial will take place virtually and at both the Main Library and individual branches. Each will have themes linked to the library anniversary or the era.
“The library system was created to be a resource for our communities so we created a month of events and activities so residents can take part in the celebration,” said Jonathan Chebra, Burlington County Library Commission chair. “Visitors will learn about the library’s history and longevity but also how it continues to evolve to serve them and improve their lives.”
The events include a special book club discussion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and other Jazz Age Stories” and a virtual lecture about Louis Armstrong, led by Ricky Riccardi, director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of two books about the jazz legend.
Branch events and activities range from an Oct. 14 lecture about the U.S. Army Signal Corps telephone switchboard operators, also known as the “Hello Girls” and their importance to battlefield communications during World War I and their fight for veterans status in 1921 to an all-day 100 Book Storytime on Oct. 5 at the Pinelands Library in Medford, where 100 children’s books will be read in celebration of the BCLS’s 100 years.
Another highlight is at the Pemberton Branch, which plans to host a month-long “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Scavenger Hunt, allowing children to help J.K. Rowling’s 1920s era hero Newt Scamander locate missing magical creatures throughout the library.
There will even be a 100th anniversary concert in the auditorium at the Main Library on Oct. 20 featuring Turtle Dance Music and their show “Reading Rocks! A Virtual Music, Bubble and Comedy Show” for all ages.
All 100th anniversary events are listed on the BCLS website at www.bcls.lib.nj.us/celebrate-100-years
“Burlington County was the first county library system created in New Jersey and it continues to be one of the finest in the nation,” Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell, who is the county commissioners’ liaison to the BCLS, said in the statement. “This systemwide celebration will be a fitting tribute to the library’s enduring longevity but also how it has continued to grow and evolve to meet residents’ needs. There’s something for everyone, so we want to encourage residents to join the party this month at either the Main Library or local branch events.”
Burlington County Library System’s 100th Anniversary Events
Virtual (Zoom) events
- Not Your Mother’s Book Club: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 3 p.m. Oct. 6.
- Louis Armstrong 101, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13. In a multimedia presentation, Armstrong author and historian Ricky Riccardi will demonstrate just how “Satchmo” revolutionized the sounds of jazz and popular music with his innovations.
- Special Friday Film Club, noon Oct. 22. Discuss the silent classic, “The Affairs of Anatol” directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
- Old Time Radio Hour: “The War of the Worlds,” 2 p.m. Oct. 5. Join an unabridged listen to the Orson Welles adaption of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.” First broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938, this radio program enthralled listeners and caused a sensation. Feel free to bring your latest work-in-progress if you knit, sketch, etc. Jigsaw puzzles and coloring sheets will also be available for listeners.
- The Hello Girls, 7 p.m. Oct. 14. Learn how the U.S. Army Signal Corps employed women as telephone switchboard operators during World War I. The pioneering “Hello Girls” worked long hours to ensure battlefield communications, sometimes at great personal risk. The head “Hello Girl,” Grace Baker, was from New Jersey! In 1921, after the war, the “Hello Girls” fought for veteran status.
- Roaring Twenties Murder Mystery, 6 p.m. Oct. 19. Teens can join a murder mystery set in the 1920s to put together clues and figure out “who done it.”
- What Can I Change in 100 Years?, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 20
This storytime includes books that showcase the differences between 1921 and 2021. A special display of antiques – including a typewriter, record player and drawers from a card catalog – will be on display. There will also be a presentation of things that grow and change over a century, such as trees and turtles. All children are welcome, but this event is geared toward ages 11 and under.
- Diamond Origami Class, 7 p.m. Oct. 12. Each anniversary is associated with a special gem. One hundred years is a diamond. To celebrate BCLS’ 100th anniversary, make a 3D paper diamond through origami.
Burlington County Library
- Flappers: Women of the 1920s, noon Oct. 9. The 1920s was a period of American history that significantly changed how society perceived and accepted women. This presentation discusses the emergence of American women from the demure Gibson Girl to the flashy Flapper. It will also discuss the societal impact of World War I, the fashion of the time and the influence of literature, movies and art. Presented in period costume by Trish Chambers Productions.
- Happy Birthday BCLS! Storytime, 11:30 a.m. Oct. 19. Enjoy specially themed stories, songs and fun. All children are welcome, but this event is geared toward ages 2–6.
- 100th Anniversary Concert with Turtle Dance Music, 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20, sponsored by the Friends of the Burlington County Library Inc. Reading Rocks: The Music, Bubble and Comedy Show is a high-energy music and comedy show that encourages reading and a love of books by engaging children (and adults) with songs, comedy, bubbles and music technology.
- Outdoor Storytime: BCLS’ 100th Anniversary, 10:30 a.m. Oct. 7. This will be a library-themed storytime filled with songs and fun outside in the fresh air, weather-permitting. The storytime will take place outside of Diamonds at Arrow Head Park Archway, located at 984 Tuckerton Road, Marlton. All ages are welcome, but this event is geared toward children ages 3–6. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs.
- Book Discussion: Between the Lines, 2 p.m. Oct. 25. Discuss “Between the Lamps,” a short story written in 1921 by Sherwood Anderson. Free copies will be available at the information desk.
Maple Shade branch
- Outdoor Jazz Storytime, 10:30 a.m. Oct. 6. Join Miss Sarah for an Outdoor Jazz Storytime and Dance Party. The event will take place outside, weather permitting, at Collins Lane Park, 57 Collins Lane, Maple Shade. The event is designed for children of all ages. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs.
- Works in Progress Writing Workshop, 7 p.m. Sept. 29. Travel back in time with a writing prompt. This month’s prompt is to imagine what life was like in your Burlington County hometown in 1921. Were there more cows than cars? How would your character dress to visit the library for the first time? Bring your work or email your submission to email@example.com. The group will meet in the Adult Services center in the Pemberton Library for a discussion about 1921.
- “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Scavenger Hunt, Oct. 1-30. Step into the 1920s and help Newt Scamander locate his missing magical creatures. The creatures will be hidden around the entire library. All contest entries will be entered to win a prize. The winner will be notified on Nov. 1.
- 100 Book Storytime!, all day Oct. 5. Children of all ages and their caregivers are invited to join 100-Book Storytime. Join throughout the day as guests read 100 children’s books to celebrate 100 years of the BCLS. Come and go as you please. If the weather allows, the group will be across from the library in Tomlinson Park. If not, they will read in the Children’s Room, where masks will be required for anyone over 2 years of age.
- Flappers: Women of the 1920s, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14. This presentation discusses the emergence of American women from the demure Gibson Girl to the flashy Flapper. Presented in period costume by Trish Chambers Productions.
Registration is required for most events and programs. Contact the individual library branch for more information.