PARAMUS, N.J. — The Paramus Public Library is seeking to expand.

Library officials have submitted an application to the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act Program for the construction of a $1.16 million renovation to the East Century Road Library. The scope of the project calls for 1,958 square feet of additional space to accommodate more people and expand programming for patrons of all ages, Library Director Leonard LoPinto said. 

Earlier this year, Governor Murphy announced the launch of the first round of grant solicitations for the Bond Act, which authorized $125 million in state bonds when New Jersey voters passed it nearly three years ago. The goal is to support public libraries’ desire to provide technologically efficient and modernized facilities. These renovations aim to meet the community needs and strengthen the state’s economy by creating job opportunities for state businesses. 

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Late last month, the Paramus Council unanimously passed a resolution to provide matching funding in the sum of $660,581 if the library is awarded the maximum grant request of $507,000, per the guidance in the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act solicitation for grant applications.

According to LoPinto, the goal of the expansion at the Paramus Public Library is to accommodate and comfortably seat more people who frequent the library for school visits, and local officials who congregate for community meetings, which include the League of Women Voters, the Paramus Women’s Club, the Environmental and Historic Commissions, among groups, and add to its slate of programming to yield more of a community center in the borough. 

“This addition will benefit the entire community in helping us to present vital library services,” said LoPinto. “It will not only allow us to do more programming and eduction for our children, but allow us to expand what we do with adults.“ 

Ideas for expanded programs include increasing the number of story times and other toddler/pre-school programs, which library officials believe will result in higher reading scores and instill positive experiences in the children so that they’ll feel more inclined to take their own children there for a visit in the future. The library also wishes to enhance its Pre-School and Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs to beget future academic and career success in youngsters, as well as provide for Computer Coding Workshops given the demand for technology jobs in the Digital Age. 

The library also wishes to expand its multigenerational programs given the current demand, provide ample room for group study for local high school and college students, in addition to room to foster book discussion groups for patrons of all ages. Programming will also be enhanced to cater to the needs of children with disabilities, which will include sensory story times and art programs.

The Paramus Public Library underwent a facelift in 2017 that included new furniture, carpeting and lighting. The existing plans for the expansion will include more furniture, seating and shelves in addition to the enlarged footprint, LoPinto said. 

There are currently no dates set in terms of construction, as the library awaits approval of their application, hopefully by year’s end, LoPinto said.

While the library currently remains closed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with all programs canceled through June, LoPinto said he’s looking ahead to the future and a library that can better serve its patrons, changes that will yield a “great benefit to the entire community.” 

“As soon as it’s safe to get into our library, we’ll begin the best service that we can give,” he said.