MANALAPAN, NJ – Renovations in a $2.4 million upgrade and modernization of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters will begin in September with only minor inconveniences anticipated for library users, Monmouth County Library Commission Chair Renee B. Swartz announced this week.
“The Commission, Library Director Judi Tolchin, and library staff have been working closely in planning these renovations for months,” Swartz said, “to ensure the work is done as quickly as possible and with the very least inconvenience to all library users. We are happy to report that work can continue without any expected closures on regular library days.”
There will some minor inconveniences, the chair continued, “but there will always be staff available to seek out whatever the user needs, or to help in locating some materials that may be moved from familiar locations.” While most of the work will be done during regular open hours for the library, some will also be completed after hours to avoid any closures or inconvenience to users. Anticipated closures will involve only specific sections rather than the entire complex and will only be for limited times on specific days. “We want to ensure a steady flow of customer accessibility,” Tolchin said.
The first of the three phases of the $2.4 million project is a modernization of the county building, first built in 1987 and expanded in 2000.
“With an average of 22,000 visitors each month in the fall, I’m especially pleased that the Commission prioritized library users in planning these renovations,” Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry said. “The staff not only listened to what the users want, but also observed their use of the facilities, even how they sat at tables or in chairs, in order to select the new technology which will make the headquarters library even more inviting and functional, whether it is used for research, education, or recreational purposes.”
Library Interiors, established in 1985, is coordinating the renovations. The firm collaborates with architects and designers packaging innovative ideas and providing unique design and furnishings for new and well-established facilities seeking to encompass the latest technology and programs into what they currently offer their users.
Phase one of the overall project includes completion of the electrical engineering plan for upgrading the infrastructure to accommodate electronic ability to nearly every point of service…. patrons will be able to access electronic equipment from desks, tables, and chairs within the library while still able to maintain privacy and space for individual use. The work entails considerable moving of both furniture and resources to install underfloor wiring and new floor coverings.
“With 350,000 visits recorded at the Headquarters library in the past year and over 1.2 million system-wide visitors annually, it is important that the library keeps up with and provides the technology that today’s library user demands,” Burry said.
Swartz added “The Monmouth County Library system is the premiere facility in the state, offering a world class library in its collection of more than one and a half million items. The resources include, career counseling, as well as, educational, recreational, and entertainment programming. The Headquarters renovation completion will result in well lit, comfortable surroundings, with dynamic furnishings and space that is both pleasing and welcoming. All our library branches strive to be inviting for 21st century patrons. It continues to be the aim of the Library Commission to maintain a standard of excellence by providing an aesthetically pleasing environment, which acts as the community center and heartbeat of Monmouth County, an unparalleled destination for all ages.”
New tables and chairs and a variety of seating options at varying sizes and heights will offer greater flexibility for groups who want to study together. Many will include dividers for users at busier times who want to have more privacy, Tolchin explained. Tolchin added, “By simply observing our library users, we’ve come to realize the privacy some are seeking, the more comfortable seating others want for casual reading and the larger tables they need for group discussions and sharing knowledge. By working with professional library planners, we have been able to incorporate all of these features, along with more electronic technology to continue to meet the needs and desires of the 21st century library user.”
A new circulation desk, which will be ADA accessible, and the main reading room are two of the improvements which will be completed under the first phase, Tolchin reported. Shelving will be relocated to allow for both study and collaborative work , and electronics will be upgraded to enable users to bring and use their own devices.
The Teen Room will also be upgraded during this phase of renovations, with new tables and chairs inviting both individual and group projects. The Teen space is being designed to enable more programming exclusively for this age group.
The first phase is anticipated to be completed within three months, Tolchin explained, and phase two, improvements and renovations to the children’s library, will, follow immediately. The third and final phase will include renovations to the meeting rooms, staff areas and administrative offices.