HISTORY OF THE LITTLE SILVER PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Little Silver Free Public Library was established by resolution at a meeting of the Mayor and Council on June 22, 1926. County Librarian, Miss Eleanor Randall, and Mrs. Robert Rothwell, Principal of the Little Silver School, had appeared before the governing body, requesting establishment of a public library. The first library was located on the second floor of the old Firehouse, at 16 Church Street, and was open for three hours, one day a week.
The Woman’s Club of Little Silver adopted the library as an extra activity, providing volunteers and soliciting donations of books. The earliest library volunteer, Mrs Emily A. Borden served two full years. Several others followed. In 1931 Mrs. Eleanor Kenyon became the first paid librarian, serving until 1958. In 1959 Mrs. John J. Balkan became librarian.
The library remained in the Firehouse until December, 1935, when the Borough Council relocated its offices and the library into the recently-vacated old school, renamed Borough Hall. In 1960 the library moved upstairs to larger quarters in the Borough Hall.
Early circulation figures speak favorably of the library’s use. In 1931 circulation was 2,500 books; in 1934, 4,500 books. By 1935, the library was open Tuesday afternoons and the first Saturday of each month. By 1964 circulation had grown to 33,567 books and in 1965 the library was open six days a week for a total of 33 hours.
Since 1958, the Friends of the Library have served as liaison with the Borough Council and the library. In April, 1964, Mayor Charles W. Stephens presented the Council’s proposal for converting the vacant Borough garages into a new town library. The plan solved the imminent problem of vacating the 1899 former school building. Construction of the new building/conversion began in August, 1964, and at a cost of $24,954, the new Little Silver Free Public Library was completed. In 1966 the library was incorporated as an Association Library, eligible for state and federal aid. The first Board of Trustees was elected with Mrs. Ruth Branch presiding. Through a federal grant under the Library Services and Construction Act, a 2000 square foot wing was added in 1969.
Susan Edwards, M.L.S., was hired as director in 1986 and served in that capacity until her retirement in 2011. In 2012, Anita O’Brien, M.L.I.S., who had been working in the library since 2002, and was appointed Library Director. In 2001, Lorraine Ayres became the library’s longest paid employee when she celebrated 40 years as Assistant Librarian.
Computer access to the library catalog and WordPerfect were offered in 1990. In 1994, computer access to the Monmouth County Library and Microsoft Works were added; Internet access was added in 1998. By 2003, all check-out and discharging functions were done by computer. Library services are available six days a week for a total of 46 ½ hours a week.
A resolution was adopted by the Borough of Little Silver in 2000 to provide $150,000 in funding to the library for a 1600 square foot addition. Additional funding would be raised by the Friends of the Little Silver Library’s Expansion Project and through obtaining a $50,000 legislative grant. Ground was broken in October, 2002 and construction began on Expansion Project 2000. The goals of the project, which came to fruition in the spring of 2003, included the creation of the following: a separate space for children’s books and programs; a technology center with additional computers and digital resources; a comfortable, quiet reading area for adults and an overall accessible, inviting public facility.
Currently, in 2015 the library serves not only the community’s needs for books and materials that can be checked out but as a communications/technology center for patrons’ use. There are five computers for the public use, as well as a copy machine that can send faxes. Customers can access a free Wifi connection inside the library as well as outside on the Wifi patio. Patrons may choose to receive an online newsletter which is emailed to them on the first of each month, detailing upcoming library events.