Old Bridge upgrading library

Staff Writer

 Changes to the Old Bridge Public Library will bring it into the 21st century.  KATHY CHANG/STAFF Changes to the Old Bridge Public Library will bring it into the 21st century. KATHY CHANG/STAFF After almost two decades, the Old Bridge Township Library is getting a much-needed facelift bringing the library into the 21st century.

“We opened in the early 1990s, and the original roof and furniture remain,” said Library Director Nancy Cohen.

In 2013, a township energy savings capital improvement plan for the buildings in the municipal center incorporated the library roof as well as heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) units.

“The roof replacement started two years ago, and completion is expected in a couple of weeks,” she said.

Cohen said in spring 2016, the library will start being outfitted with the new HVAC units. The implementation of new carpeting and new furniture, which is budgeted through capital reserves within the library budget, will also begin next year.

“This will not happen all at once,” she said. “It will be done over a two- to three-year period.”

Cohen said over the past two decades the carpeting and furniture have become worn from being well used.

“With the new look, we hope to provide a more comfortable experience for the people who come into the library,” she said. “The furniture will include power outlets built into the furniture so people can plug in.”

Cohen said they are also looking to implement a charging station.

“We already have a pretty robust Wi-Fi network,” she said adding with the installation of charging stations, the township library is catching up with the times.

Cohen said with approximately 25,000 to 30,000 visitors a month it is important for the library system to keep up with technology.

“We are adding additional computers to the public computer area,” she said.

In July, the library made the move to implement EnvisionWare software, which allows people to print from their own devices at the library.

“Our goal is to keep up with the technology and digital resources,” said Cohen.

Old Bridge library cardholders, who make up one-third of the township population, can utilize digital resources remotely including e-books and an online program, tutor.com, that provides live online tutoring.

Cohen said the library also has a great presence on social media from Facebook, and Twitter to YouTube and Tumblr.

The library provides a myriad of adult and children programs.

A space has been carved out at the library for Old Bridge Idea Farm Makerspace Workshops and Demonstration Gardens. The space includes a 3-D printer.

In 2016, the library is expanding its outreach into the community including books by mail and the bookmobile for those who cannot get to the library.

“We are also starting off-site educational classes at the senior center and homeowner associations,” said Cohen.

She said over the years the library has evolved into a community cultural center space. “It’s not about books anymore,” she said.

Old Bridge Township has two libraries, the main library on Old Bridge Plaza and a location in the Laurence Harbor section of the township on Shoreland Circle. There are seven full-time librarians and a number of part-time support staff.

Cohen said upgrades are only being made to the main library at this time.

For more information visit www.oldbridgelibrary.org.