The Alfred H. Baumann Free Public Library in Woodland Park has been awarded a $2,883,577 grant for the renovation and updating of its building on Brophy Lane by the state as part of the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act. This second round of funding allocates $37 million to 36 projects across New Jersey. It is the largest grant ever received by the Borough.
The Library Bond Act, approved by voters in 2017, authorizes $125 million in state bonds for technology updates, building improvements, and other library projects across the state.
“I would like to congratulate the community of Woodland Park,” said Library Director Linda Hoffman. “This was a community-driven project, from Woodland Park’s youngest citizens to our senior citizens, our local businesses and organizations, and of course our governing body, Library Board of Trustees, Library staff, and the Friends of the Library. Everyone worked together to bring this project to fruition.
“They imagined the possibilities for the library and the community, and then got to work,” she said. “On behalf of everyone that was part of this project, thank you, I could not be more grateful than I am right now.”
The grant, in addition to capital reserve that the Library Board has saved over many years, money fundraised by the Friends of the Library, and some funding from the Borough will match the State grant 1-to-1 to complete this project.
“The work to secure this grant has occurred since 2016,” Mayor Keith Kazmark said. “Our new Library is something that our Director, Linda Hoffman, her staff, the Library Board of Trustees, the Friends of the Library, and our patrons have been working for – for a very long time. It’s a testament to their work and advocacy that we have been granted this money and will have a state-of-the-art library built within the next two years.”
The Library expects to go out to bid this summer and break ground in the fall. Work is anticipated to take about two years to complete. The Library has not had any major renovations or expansions in the 42 years it has been at its current location and is in dire need of updates, rehabilitation, barrier-free improvements, and more space overall. It has outgrown its current footprint and needs upgrades for technology infrastructure and more to best serve its patrons.
Plans for the expansion were unveiled at the Library’s Casino Night in March 2019. The Friends of the Alfred Baumann Library and Library administration have been working for many years to bank funds in anticipation of renovations.
Plans were developed as a result of the Library’s strategic plan, a building needs assessment, and input from residents through focus groups, interviews, and feedback from patrons coming into the Library.
An inclusive and thoughtful rehabilitation and expansion was designed that will permit increased accessibility with ADA and barrier-free improvements. The addition will include a larger children’s room with emergency exits, teen area, offices, generator, amphitheater, and outdoor plaza. A divisible community room, conference room, and new bathrooms will be available for programs and meetings after the main library closes.
The renovations will create a dedicated computer and innovation lab, flexible lounge and study space, storage space, “floating” service points, a double-sided electric fireplace, art exhibit space, and a redesigned entrance. The plan includes new furniture, flooring, decor, and new infrastructure.
“Historical artifacts will be also included in the design – keeping the rich history of Woodland Park alive for generations to come,” Hoffman added.
The Library and its services will relocate during construction. More detailed plans will be announced as they are available.