Director makes plea for new library in T.F.

Iread with interest the letter in the May 15 edition of your paper regarding the proposed new premises for the Tinton Falls library. Though our Borough Council has been trying to achieve this for the last 10 years, it is easy to see why – at this time of financial tightening – it might be thought to be an unnecessary expense.

The problems facing the town and the library board are the following:

1) Use of the library has grown by over 60 percent since a new facility was planned as phase three of the borough’s three-phase municipal building plan in 2001.

2) Larger premises are desperately needed but it is impossible to expand on the current site.

3) The current building is not accessible to the handicapped portion of our population at a time when there are an increasing number of senior housing areas in the borough.

A survey of the town was made in 2007 via the borough newsletter and Web site, and showed overwhelming support for a new building for the library. As a consequence of this survey, a grant was used (no cost to the tax payer) for a feasibility study to assess current and future use of the facility and recommend what size a bigger building ought to be. This was a necessary preliminary to applying for building funds from alternative sources.

The provisional recommended ideal size of 27,000 square feet was way beyond what we had anticipated. However, at this point, you have to realize that a library is no longer just a repository for books. The Tinton Falls Library is the only center for the community in town serving all ages across the board. In fact, in 2007, an average of over 140 people per day used the library.

If it is to be a true community center, then space is needed for activities of all sorts and all ages. Currently, we have no room even for our children’s programs and have to have a tent outside the library to accommodate them in the summer.

The library makes an important contribution to the quality of life of a large number of residents. Those of us who no longer have children in the schools, or who do not themselves play baseball or soccer, still recognize the need to pay for facilities for those who do. This is the way a community operates.

The Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library (so often quoted as an alternative) is an excellent reference center and we are very lucky to have it so close to us. However, it meets very different needs from those of a town library, where neighbor meets neighbor, school needs are met and local affairs are aired and discussed.

Mayor Peter Maclearie and the council are well aware of both the existing needs and the current difficult financial situation. They are working together with the library to find funding and resolve the problem in a way that results in maximum benefit to the community. Meanwhile we try to continue to ” … provide a valuable service to the community … ” (as Mr. Henry Bergmann writes) in spite of almost overwhelming difficulties. We would welcome any resident coming in to see first hand what we are talking about!

Rosemary Tunnicliffe

Director Tinton Falls Public Library