It Is Time to Connect
Libraries across the country are re-tooling to serve the rapidly evolving needs of their communities. The South Orange Public Library is no exception. We are thrilled to share our plans to create a larger, more accessible 21st Century library — an essential gathering place for the educational, informational and cultural needs of the community.
More than a decade in the making, this project includes the restoration of the original 1896 Connett Library building, the renovation of the existing 1968 library and the construction of a link between the two buildings that will become the new, fully accessible, main entrance.
To prepare for this moment, we have been listening to the diverse voices of South Orange in focus groups, interviews and surveys. Here’s what we have learned: people love our library because they love our staff and programming, but the building is too small, too hard to get around, and lacks spaces for collaborative work, quiet study and creative endeavors. Based on your input, our library needs a much larger and more flexible children’s room; private study spaces; small meeting rooms; better access for people of all ages and abilities; more restrooms; a place to eat; and a larger central meeting room with a separate entrance for after-hours gatherings.
With nearly twice the usable space as the current library, our new campus will not only meet our immediate needs, but because it will be designed for maximum flexibility will also enable us to meet future needs. The South Orange Public Library will be our community’s central gateway, whether physical or virtual, to information, the exchange of ideas and the celebration of literacy and culture for generations to come.
Schematic Drawings (scroll to see more)
A project of this scope requires significant investment. Now is the time to commit to the library of our future: The State of New Jersey is awarding 1 to 1 matching grants to communities seeking to improve their libraries. Though we were not among the small number of libraries whose projects were funded in the first round, we prepared to re-apply in the second round. Our application for a nearly $6.4 million grant was submitted in June, and South Orange Village has committed to matching it.
We anticipate hearing about the grant before the end of 2021. Once funding is secured, we expect the project to take two years. Construction will be phased to allow for the continuous use of the library.
To learn more, please click on the link below to listen to architects from H3 describe the project.