LBI celebrates 25th anniversary of its building

Long Beach Island 25th Anniversary Party Ocean County Library New Jersey

The Long Beach Island library branch recently reopened and celebrated the 25th anniversary in this building.

Staff of the Long Beach Island Branch of the Ocean County Library joined residents and public officials, library administrators and library commission members May 7 for a grand celebration of the facility’s 25th anniversary.

The branch closed in February due to a roof replacement project and ceiling repair work. The branch reopened on April 28, following the completion of work to the delight of staff and residents.

LBI Branch Manager Linda Feaster said, “Having the 25th anniversary of the building’s dedication the week after we reopened gave us two things to celebrate.’’

“We are all very happy to be back at the LBI Branch with our co-workers and customers.  Our thanks go to the staff of Berkeley, Lacey, Barnegat, Stafford, Tuckerton, and Little Egg Harbor for making us all feel welcome in our temporary assignments,” Feaster said.

“We learned a lot and have brought back new ideas for improvements to how we do things.  The Facilities Department did a great job making the library look wonderful and function better, and the improvements the Technology Department made to our audio and video systems have already impressed our customers,” she said.

“We are pleased to have the Long Beach Island Branch back open again serving our customers. We appreciate all the community support this branch of the Ocean County Library has received over the years especially from the Friends of the Island Library and our residents and municipalities on the Island. This is a wonderful celebration bringing everyone together to honor a milestone year for this branch and its staff,” said OCL Director Susan Quinn.

Friends of the Island Library President Judy Bouton said she was overjoyed by the reopening of the branch. Her group sponsored the refreshments for the celebration. The event included various displays that showcased the branch’s history and a chocolate fountain to make chocolate covered pretzels. This was a popular spot for young people and adults.

Ship Bottom Councilman David Hartman noted the importance of the branch as a community gathering point and as a place for residents to learn, be entertained and to spend some quiet time.

Ocean County Library Commission Chairman Sal Baglio said the LBI Branch was rich with history and a vital part of the library system.

Feaster, who wrote the book, “The Best of Friends,” that chronicles the history of the branch, provided a power point presentation during the celebration.

In 1925, library service on Long Beach Island consisted solely of a book mobile that would visit the area. Later, a 20’ x 20’ room in the township municipal building became the first branch of the Ocean County Library. That room housed 3,500 books and was open one day a week in the winter, and from Monday to Saturday in the summer.

“By the end of 1958 the room was needed back by the township,’’ Feaster said.  OCL Director Miriam Evans gathered a group of interested residents and they formed the Friends of the Island Library.  The mission of this group was to find permanent quarters for the library branch.

The Friends sought a location for the first LBI Branch building and on Aug. 22, 1959, a site was found on West 16th Street in Ship Bottom.

“On Oct. 10, 1959 the roof went up and on Oct. 17, windows were installed. By Dec. of 1959 it was moving day from the room that was used at the town hall and the library opened on Jan. 16, 1960,’’ Feaster said.

The 1,750 square-foot building housed around 15,000 items. That figure nearly doubled by 1970 and grew to 25,000 items including books, records and tapes by 1981. It became apparent that this facility had reached its capacity and so a new location was sought.

Feaster was part of the effort to build a new building for the LBI Branch 25 years ago. “I never realized that someday I’d be branch manager,’’ Feaster said.

The groundbreaking for the building located at 217 S. Central Ave. in Surf City was held on March 15, 1988. OCL Library Commissioner James T. Mullins was present at that event and the 1989 dedication, as well as the May 7, 2014 program.

Mullins called this latest celebration a wonderful event and commended Feaster’s role in coordinating it.

Feaster said by 2012 the 7,000 square-foot building housed 35,500 books, CDs, and DVDs. They have 12,857 registered borrowers who checked out 110,349 items that year.

LBI resident Jim Curley is a regular visitor to the library. “I enjoyed the celebration marking the LBI Library’s 25th anniversary in its Surf City home, mainly because it was an informal ‘Welcome Back’ for library patrons after more than two months without a local library,’’ he said.

Curley said, “It was great to listen to Linda Feaster’s description of the rich heritage of our library – from a modest collection at a local residence to a bookmobile to the previous site of the library – a small building on 16th Street in Ship Bottom. I appreciated that she saluted the civic-minded people who made the library what it is today.’’

Brian Spinner, who works as a monitor at the Long Beach Island Branch was among those who spoke at the celebration. “It is a joy to work here every day,’’ Spinner said.

“This is a place of community,’’ Feaster said.

More photos from the anniversary celebration can be found on our Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oceancountylibrary/sets/72157644643275674/

Long Beach Island 25th Anniversary Party Ocean County Library New Jersey

Left to right: Library Commissioner James T. Mullins, Commission Chair Sal Baglio, Library Director Susan Quinn and LBI Branch Manager Linda Feaster.

Long Beach Island 25th Anniversary Party Ocean County Library New Jersey

Ship Bottom Councilman David Hartman

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