The Ridgewood Public Library plans on renovating their space to accommodate new needs. Since the 1998 renovation, the library has been able to keep up with the ever-changing community. However, the technological demands on the library have made the current infrastructure a limiting factor.
Nowadays, most people have several devices that they need to charge while they work, and the library does not have enough power outlets for everyone. Additionally, the use of the library has changed over time as most people are using the library for other needs besides finding a book. For instance, after school, students crowd the tables and work together on homework and group projects. Even adults come to the library to work. The library has attempted to manage these issues without construction but it appears that big changes will have to be made. Lorri Steinbacher, the library administrator states, “the goal is to have service for everyone, from infants to senior citizens, we want to ensure that every part of the library serves every segment of the population”.
This is the best time for the renovation, as the State of New Jersey has just allocated a $125 million grant pool to build and update public libraries throughout the state. The last time public library construction grants were offered was almost 20 years ago. With these state grants, it could help support up to 50% of the project’s costs. If the administration doesn’t make the decision now, they may have to wait another 20 years until receiving a matching grant.
The library can improve service to residents of all ages by allocating and updating existing space. The enhancements will resolve current problems and allow flexibility for future growth. There are five key improvement goals the administration set forth. First, to offer an inviting destination for Ridgewood teens and preteens by creating a brighter and more welcoming teen room with lounge and study seating, along with access to more technology. This would offer a larger space for teens to hang out and study, considering that the current teen room has very limited space.
Additionally, the library wants to provide more programs for their visitors’ entertainment. As of now, the library does not have enough meeting space to hold certain events. However, with the expansion, there would be ample room to have storytimes, concerts, lectures, author visits, and discussion groups. Another goal of the renovation is to add reader seats so that people who need a quiet place to study or read books, newspapers, or magazines can sit without being disturbed. In the past, senior citizens, job seekers, and other library-goers have been frustrated with the noise and commotion of the library, and they felt like they needed a place to escape; a section for readers only will provide them with such.
The administration of the library would also like to add more study tables. Students often face a shortage of study tables, and therefore, cannot find a suitable place to get work done. More of these tables will hopefully encourage more researchers of all ages to come to the library to study. Lastly, with the expansion of the Ridgewood Public Library, the administration is to add more technological resources. With the current setup, there is only one small room in the building dedicated to computer classes and tech-based activities. The extension would hopefully create a more visible, open space for computers and tech equipment, which would draw more attention to that area.
All of these changes would make a more innovative and accessible for the members of the community. If everything goes according to plan, Ridgewood could have a practically brand new library in just a few years.
Katie Hu and James Ellinghaus