by Steve Sears
The Lincoln Park Public Library is anxiously awaiting the time when its proposed expansion can begin.
Stephanie Iberer-Flood, Director of the Lincoln Park Public Library since April 2012, explains what has transpired thus far, and what is holding up the process. “The previous LP Library Director saved money from the library’s budget for many years (state law allows 20% of the budget to be reserved for capital expenses). I saved some in the seven years that I have been here. We also received a $5,000 estate gift. We will not be asking the Borough of Lincoln Park for any funds to renovate. All the money we use will be funds that the library has saved in its capital account, gifts from the community, and the matching grant money the state will give us when they approve our project. We are waiting for the (New Jersey Library Construction Bond) Act to be presented so until that happens, we are at a stand-still.”
The library, which was built in 1969, has never been renovated, but discussions to plan one was begun by the library Board of Trustees prior to Iberer-Flood’s being on-site. “We had plans drawn up and went out to bid in March 2017. The bids came back high, and we were working with our architect, James P. Cutillo & Associates of Pompton Plains, to re-work the plans when we heard the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act was going to be on the ballot in November 2017. We knew it was being talked about prior to this, but when it became a definite on the ballot, we decided to wait. It has now passed, and we plan to apply for the grant.”
Iberer-Flood speaks to the history of the library, and then notes that most needed is more space for more people. “With the exception of retrofitting for computers, adding ADA door access, re-doing the restrooms, adding a staff kitchen, and painting and carpeting over 20 years ago, the library hasn’t changed much since it was built,” she says. “Libraries have evolved and are often seen as the hub and community center of a town. Our library has no meeting room space because libraries were very different in 1969. Meeting rooms, quiet study room, reading rooms, and plenty of tables, chairs and comfortable spaces are what people are looking for. Of course, people are always going to borrow items from the library, but they are also gathering at libraries and that is an area we are not able to offer to our community at this time due to not having a meeting room.”
The ultimate plan, if and when grant money is received, is very worthwhile but also very involved. It includes expanding the children’s room and adult book area, adding a meeting room space, adding at least two quiet study rooms, creating a light-filled reading room for those reading magazines and newspapers, making the children’s book stacks ADA compliant, and giving the library a facelift. “We also need to put on a new roof, fix falling plaster, put in a new front entrance with a new canopy, change out the windows, put in new flooring, replace the bookshelves, install an exterior book drop, update the utilities, install new ceiling tiles, and paint the interior, among other things,” says Iberer-Flood. “Right now, all of the library’s programs, both adult and children’s, are held in the children’s room. It’s not a private space and sometimes people feel they are interrupting when they are looking for children’s books during a program. We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable in the library. When we have a dedicated meeting room space, we can not only hold our own programs in that space, but we can also allow community groups to use the space for meetings and gatherings.”
The public can donate directly to the Lincoln Park Public Library, which is located at 12 Boonton Turnpike in Lincoln Park, or to the Friends of the Lincoln Park Public Library. The library is always seeking new Friends of the Library members, and anyone who is interested can contact Iberer-Flood at (973) 694-8283.
“Our goal,” confirms Iberer-Flood, “is to make this renovation and addition something that the entire community can embrace and be proud of.”