MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Library will be receiving $8.3 million, of the $125 million N.J. Library Construction Bond Act, for the ‘A Library for the 21st Century’ project.

Maplewood was one of more than 120 libraries to apply for the funding and received the third largest grant out of the 38 libraries that were selected.

 “This is such fantastic news,” said Sarah Lester, Maplewood Library Director.  “We look forward to building an accessible, inspiring and technologically advanced library that will serve the Maplewood community for years to come.”

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The grant requires matching funds, reported Township Committee Member Vic DeLuca at the Township Committee meeting yesterday evening while announcing the grant publicly. The Township will be budgeting funds and the library will be fundraising. DeLuca said the library is expected to sign the contract in December and engage the architects right away, with construction possibly starting in September 2021.

The grant will be used for renovations and a total reconstruction of the library building. The new building will be two stories and have all the main event spaces on the first floor so it is fully ADA accessible. With this new building the seating capacity and public meeting space will grow by 77%.

New technology will also be fully integrated into the building. A conference room with a Smart Board/flat screen. Wi-Fi with increased bandwidth, A computer lab with scanners, laptops, color and 3-D printing and a collaboration room with conference and webinar capabilities.

The building is being designed with the health and safety guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic in mind by having the ability to serve as many people as possible while also maintaining social distancing. To remain useful to the community during other emergencies or natural disasters the library is being designed with generator capacity.

“This is welcome news during very anxious and difficult times. I want to thank the Maplewood Township Committee, Library Foundation, Friends of the Library, Library Trustees and Staff, and the broader community who helped us to secure this vital state funding,” said Kate McCaffrey, President of the Maplewood Library Board.

Sage and Coombe Architects, the firm hired to complete the project, is a certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise and have won awards for their work around New York and New Jersey.

The Bond Act passed both houses of the state legislature with overwhelming support Monday, with eight primary sponsors and 52 co-sponsors including both Assembly members representing Maplewood, Mila Jasey and John McKeon.

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