By Courtney Fahy
During the month of December, the Livingston Public Library displayed Livingston residents Hans and Herta Conrads’ teddy bear collection. The Conrads’ personal collection features 6,000 teddy bears, which happens to include prized Steiff bears. The Conrads loaned the Livingston Public Library 50-60 teddy bears for the display.
Archana Chiplunkar, who has been with the Livingston Public Library for 21 years, is an advanced services librarian who organized the exhibition. Chiplunkar stated that Herta Conrads approached her with her collection and she thought it would be a charming and interesting display, especially for the holiday season. She stated that she noticed patrons of the library stopping to look and admire the bears featured in the display.
Chiplunkar stated that the purpose of organizing displays in the library has expanded in the last year, as they decided to widen their displays to the community and residents.
She stated, “We wanted to reach out to the community to share treasures that they may have to display in our case. “
While the teddy bear exhibition was only on display for the month of December, the display is updated monthly and features a member from the community and their collection or interesting treasures.
Chiplunkar stated “It is continuing. We’re inviting community members to share treasures. It also makes the display case more interesting. It makes people stop and look. Right now we have a Statue of Liberty display going on. It will be displayed for the month of January.”
When asked about the intent of the community displays featured at the Livingston Public Library, Chiplunkar stated, “We’re hoping that these displays bring attention to the library and bring more people in. It also gives the community a place where they can share their collections and treasures with everyone. It is a win-win for the community and for the library as well. There have been more onlookers, and it publicizes both the library and the residents’ collections.”
Overall, Chiplunkar said that the community response to the residents’ displays has been extremely positive. Specifically, Chiplunkar stated that, “There has been very positive feedback. It has brought a lot of smiles to the faces of patrons. We see little kids and families looking at it intently with all the different kinds of teddy bears. We have also gotten attention from local papers.”
Chiplunkar described the Conrads and her experience working with them on the teddy bear display.
“The Conrads are a charming couple,” she said. “They are very nice and easy to work with. Herta missed having them around. She would come in to look at them and she would add more bears. They have been residents a long time. It is a good experience and the community is getting to know the Conrads and they are happy to share.”