Whats Next? Big Plans for West Orange Public Library Moving

The W.O. Public Library has closed its location in downtown and plans to reopen bigger and better this summer.

The West Orange Public Library (WOPL) is moving locations. Currently situated at 46 Mt. Pleasant Ave, the library has resided near the town hall, and next to the police station for nearly 65 years and has been a keystone in the West Orange community.

The library will be moving to 10 Rooney Circle, for what the Board and Staff of the West Orange Public Library call a facility that is “designed to carry us far into the 21st century.” Construction for the new library is currently underway and the project is expected to be completed sometime in late spring. January 31, was the last day the Library was open to the public, though all throughout February library staff will be available by phone for any questions or concerns.

While WOPL is closed as of now 76 other BCCLS locations accept WOPL library cards which are free for the west orange community to access. Some library goers are also granted access to use any Essex County/Essex County University Library through the REBL sticker on their library card. The library also offers many virtual resources including e-books and audiobooks for borrowing, these can be accessed using a BCCLS E-book library card.

The move comes after the Library Board voted to transfer locations, with members of the staff stating “out of the 47,000 West Orange residents, 37,000 have active library cards, yet 22 percent chose to check out books at neighboring libraries” They go on to state that this percentage “far exceed[es] the 5 to 10 percent average among the 77 libraries included in the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.” The Rooney Circle Library is funded by a 036;11.3 million grant, split between West Orange, and the neighboring town, Maplewood. West Orange received 036;3 million from the Library Construction Bond Act, which aims to fund innovative community spaces in libraries rather than “Just books” as assembly members Mila Jasey and John McKeon explain. Library board members support the move, highlighting the benefits to a new space, and explaining that the location itself is more accessible to citizens due to its location on a Jitney route and its proximity to Shoprite.

For patrons like Rhianna Giuliano, a student at West Orange High School, the move is a huge plus, “I am so excited to have the WOPL relocated! I’ve been going there since I was a little kid and to have it closer to my home is such a privilege.” The size of the new library is also a plus, says administrators, noting that the children’s section has increased in size by 250%, the teen section by 400% as well as an increase in private study rooms, conference rooms, and instructional areas. Down to the parking lot, which increased from 32 spaces to over 300, the Library is coming back bigger and better. “We anticipate that with a more central location, better amenities, more usable space, and more parking that these [visit] numbers will increase.” says the board. Floor plans for the new library, which can be found on the library website, outline the improved design. Now extended to two floors, the library is separated into a variety of environments each suited for specific community needs. The new design features an outdoor reading space, conference rooms, quiet reading areas, and the possibility of an outdoor black box theatre.

While the Mt. Pleasant location will be missed by many, the old building is intended to be used as a senior housing location. Along with the 65 senior apartments, the building will also include a community center that offers “branch library services.” says staff. In the past, the library has hosted many teens, and children geared events such as the Drawing Club, read-aloud, art galleries, teen poetry spotlights, and maker spaces, “It’s a wonderful place with great librarians and programs,” says Giuliano, “I’m looking forward to seeing the new building and cool features!” Administrators hope that the new space will allow residents to enjoy these resources to a fuller extent and cement the library as a cornerstone for the community. West Orange residents should expect a late spring launch. In the meantime, library patrons may access the abundance of ebooks, magazines and audiobooks available through eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS. More information can be found in the Library’s News Letter and Info packet along with their website.