By Amy Batista, Special Writer
CRANBURY – It was a day for giving thanks on a recent Tuesday as the Cranbury Public Library encouraged residents throughout the day to support its library capital campaign with “#GivingTuesday” posts on the library’s Facebook Page.
“Stephen and Julie Kim can see the future, and it includes a clean, comfortable public library for all members of the Cranbury community, young and old, to come together to read, learn and connect with one another,” read one post. “They also see a future in which Cranbury School has a safe and welcoming school library dedicated solely to student learning and exploring. Show your support for the library campaign and give back to your community by making a donation.”
Another post read “The Diamonds have lived in Cranbury since 1999, and have two girls in Cranbury Elementary School. They support the campaign for the new Cranbury Public Library as a way to expand the learning opportunities for their children outside of school hours, and to help make a community center in Cranbury a reality. Show your support for the library campaign and give back to your community by making a donation.”
Chairman of the Cranbury Public Library Foundation Campaign Committee Mike Ferrante said that the Kims wanted to let their friends and neighbors know about the library project, so they agreed to be featured in the Cranbury Public Library Foundation’s social media campaign for “#GivingTuesday.”
“We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give,” according to Giving Tuesday.org website.
“It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity,” according to its website.
Mr. Ferrante, who said the initiative in its fourth year, added that “#GivingTuesday” is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.
“Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the U.S. and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving,” he said. Since it was begun through an initiative of the 92nd Street Y in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy, he added.
“The Cranbury Public Library Foundation participated in #GivingTuesday, not only to raise funds but to raise awareness of their project and its progress within the greater Cranbury community,” said Mr. Ferrante. “The foundation recently announced that the campaign for the new library achieved the $2 million mark, over two-thirds of the way to breaking ground for the new facility.”
He said that engineering drawings are completed and the project will break ground when $2.9 million is raised. It will be located at the end of Park Place West, just one block off Main Street and is expected break ground in 2016, according to its website.
“The project is an unprecedented effort to build a municipal library through 100 percent private donations,” he said.
Both Princeton and Plainsboro built new libraries that were jointly funded by private donors and their respective municipalities.
“Cranbury Township has allocated land for the new library on the Master Plan, and has committed to building the parking lot next to the new library, but is looking to the Foundation to raise 100 percent of the funds for the new building,” he said.
The library is a proposed as an 11,500 square-foot building, as previously reported. The public library side features comfortable seating, a fireplace, books and e-books. The community center side will feature two configurable meeting rooms.
Community groups can reserve the two configurable meeting rooms, even outside library hours, with accessible restrooms and adjacent flexible/gallery space. Families will have a non-retail destination to enjoy the relaxing space, fireplace, sunset, and programming, with room for each person to enjoy the space. Teens will have a year-round group project/hang-out/creative space that isn’t attached to their elementary school. Adults will have a comfortable and quiet “third place” to meet, read and work year- round, as well as access to technology support and services. History buffs will have expanded and easier access to the Cranbury History Center archives, according to its website.
“Cranbury is the only town in New Jersey that shares a public library space with an elementary school library,” said Mr. Ferrante.
Founded in 1906 in rented space on North Main Street, the library has had many temporary homes, including the basement of the current Town Hall. Now housed in a combined space with the Cranbury School’s library, the public library is finding it increasingly difficult to grow with the town and provide the services and programs of a 21st century library. The current space is no longer meeting the needs of the school or the town, as previously reported.
“The capital campaign by the foundation will ensure that the freestanding library will support the needs of families, teens, adults and community groups with dedicated spaces for their needs,” said Mr. Ferrante. “It will also pave the way for the school to create a media center solely created to meet the needs of Cranbury School students.”
He said that more than 500 local residents and businesses have supported the campaign, but not all local families are aware of the project, or they believe the project will result in increased taxes.
“In fact, the library’s operating costs are funded through a mandatory property tax assessment of approximately 1 percent of residents’ bills,” said Mr. Ferrante.
He said that independent assessments have confirmed that operating the new building will cost equal to or less than the usage fee currently paid to the school.
“Staffing costs will also not increase since the current shared school/public library already has two separate staffs, and when the shared space is turned over to the Cranbury School, the public library staff will be able to operate the new library without incremental staff,” he said.
Cranbury residents are supportive of the project, he said. On Cranbury Day, three local residents donned jail suits donated by Audrey Smith to ask passers-by to “bail them out” from a makeshift jail built on Main Street.
Barbara Adams, beloved Cranbury School kindergarten teacher, Vincent Iannaci, proprietor of Cranbury Bagel Barn, and Matt Curran, Wynnewood resident, each helped to raise more $2,500 over four hours before the rain started on Cranbury Day, according to Mr. Ferrante.
“A new library will enhance the Cranbury that we all know and love,” said Jane Curran. “We also strongly believe that the school needs its own Media Center, which will benefit current students and future Cranbury School children for years to come. We challenge our fellow Cranburians to give back to our wonderful hometown.”
For additional information on how to donate to the campaign for a new public library, visit www.cranburylibraryfoundation.org.
By Amy Batista, Special Writer