South Orange Public Library Embarks on the Building Connections Project: Temporarily Closes and Joins BCCLS

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From The South Orange Public Library:

The South Orange Public Library (SOPL) is excited to embark on the Building Connections Project, its upcoming renovation project, in early 2024. In preparation for construction, SOPL is announcing a temporary closure from December 11, 2023 through late January 2024, during which time the staff will be packing up and relocating to an intermediate location. In advance of this brief closure SOPL will also launch its membership in the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS) on November 29, 2023, extending unprecedented access to cardholders

Rendering of SOPL main entrance by Andrew Berman Architect

Closure Details: 

During the temporary closure SOPL will not have the ability to offer in-person programming or services, however, many other resources will be available. BCCLS access will allow materials to be borrowed at some local libraries, and all of the online resources, including e-books and digital databases, will offer more variety via the website. Patrons are encouraged to explore the vast digital collection and continue to utilize the Libby App to enjoy their favorite e-books, e-audiobooks, and e-magazines from most electronic devices. 

Patrons will also have phone-in reference access and BCCLS support at designated times during the closure. Starting 12/11 Library staff will take calls, at 973-762-0230, on Mondays from 4:00pm-6:00pm, Wednesdays from 1:00pm-3:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am-noon. Reference service will also be provided for patrons who email during weekdays.  

The community is encouraged to take advantage of SOPL’s in-person programs and services throughout November. This will be the last opportunity to enjoy special events, book groups, and workshops in the current library space at 65 Scotland Road before the transformation begins. A full calendar of events can be found on the SOPL website.

BCCLS Launch: 

SOPL is thrilled to announce its much-anticipated membership in BCCLS, effective November 29. This partnership opens doors to an extensive network of libraries, granting our patrons online and in-person access to a broader range of books, movies, and digital resources across 78 libraries in northern NJ. This includes libraries in neighboring towns of Maplewood, West Orange, and Millburn. There are an impressive 5,000,000 physical and digital items available within the BCCLS system

“BCCLS is user-friendly in every way, from offering a digital library card to reserving materials from your personal device in just a few clicks,” said Jill Faherty, SOPL Director. “If you’d like to learn more or need some help navigating BCCLS, including the mobile app, the expert staff of SOPL will be hosting a series of in-person training sessions from November 29-December 10.”  

Re-Opening Plan: 

SOPL anticipates re-opening, at 298 Walton Avenue in South Orange in late January 2024, where it will remain until the renovation is complete in 2026. The space is limited, but can accommodate the library’s collection of materials while providing reduced, but similar, services.  

A secondary temporary library location is also planned.  The Baird Center, anticipated to open in 2024, will provide space for a small browsing collection and minimal programming.  More information will be provided as available.  

During this transition period, SOPL remains dedicated to providing engaging and educational opportunities for the community. The staff is actively working on solutions for programming and exploring strategic partnerships with local businesses and organizations. Details regarding online events and collaborations will be shared on the SOPL website and social media platforms.

SOPL hours of operation at the Walton Avenue site will be: 

Monday 9am-8pm

Tuesday 9am-6pm

Wednesday 9am-8pm

Thursday 9am-6pm

Friday 9am-5pm

Saturday 9am-5pm

Sunday 1pm-5pm

While this temporary closure and relocation comes with significant challenges, it is a pivotal and necessary step in the library’s commitment to enhancing services for our community. SOPL looks forward to welcoming the community into a reimagined modern space that will meet the evolving needs of South Orange residents for years to come. 

The Building Connections Project: 

Made possible by a $6.5 million Library Construction Bond Grant from the NJ State Library, a matching commitment from the Village, and a plan to raise further support from the community, South Orange Public Library will expand and retool to serve the diverse, evolving needs of the South Orange community.   

The Building Connections Project includes renovation of the current library, rehabilitation of the historic Connett library building, and construction of a link connecting the two buildings. The expansion and re-design will yield significant gains in accessibility, aesthetics, scope of services, technology, overall user experience, sustainability and capacity.  Construction is anticipated to begin in 2024.  

The architect for the project is Andrew Berman Architect, a NYC-based firm, which has designed a unique, welcoming, state-of-the-art structure cohesively linking the Connett and current library building.  The new library will nearly double in size to 30,700 square feet. It will feature an expanded children’s room, a teen room, makerspace, a reading room, multiple study rooms, a space for historical collections, and more supporting needs outlined in community assessments. Exterior work on the Connett Building was recently completed, with funding from the State of NJ Historic Trust and the Village. 

About SOPL:

The mission of the South Orange Public Library is to meet educational, informational, and cultural needs of the South Orange community. The library is committed to providing free and open access to a broad collection of materials in varied formats and media, professional assistance in locating, using, and evaluating resources, and programs for all ages that encourage reading, provide intellectual stimulation, and cultural enrichment. The library offers a welcoming, neutral public space with capacity for all generations, individuals, and groups that encourages individual pursuits, collaboration, and community engagement. SOPL hosts a distinct collection of materials unique to the Township of South Orange Village and of special interest to community members and community organizations. Learn more about the SOPL and stay connected via social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

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