Arts & Entertainment

Getting to Know the Springfield Free Public Library

Dale Spindel - Library Director Credits: Ellen Dickson

SPRINGFIELD, NJ –After meeting with the Springfield Free Public Library’s Library Director Dale Spindel, one quickly appreciates just how much the library makes available to its community. The list includes not just books, music, and videos but also special programs tailored to the interests of people of all ages.  Often overlooked is the fact that the library also has trained librarians on hand at all times to provide professional level assistance.

The offering of books available at the Springfield Free Public Library extends from traditional print format in both regular and large print, to audiobooks on compact disk plus downloadable ebooks and audiobooks.   Ms. Spindel believes the growth trajectory of e-books has begun to level off while the demand for hardbacks and paperback books has never gone away. An avid consumer of audio books, Ms. Spindel enjoys listening to them in her car.  The book currently in her disk drive is Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett.

One of Ms. Spindel’s favorite library services is “interlibrary loan,” a service that, to her knowledge, is not provided anywhere else either in the public or private sectors.   Limited to people who are residents of Springfield, library staff members will “jump through hoops” to procure items not available in Springfield but which may be owned by a library elsewhere in New Jersey or virtually anywhere else in the United States.  While it may occasionally take two weeks (or even longer) to procure an item, it is rare for a patron to end up empty handed.

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In the same vein, residents of Springfield will also find that, because of the Springfield Free Public Library’s membership in Middlesex Union Reciprocal Agreement Libraries (MURAL), their library cards will be honored at any other public library in Union County as well as in the majority of libraries in Middlesex County.

Regular programs for children include Mother Goose Group, Campfire Stories (complete with an electric “campfire”), movies and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.   Teens can participate in the Teen Advisory Group, wii games, or get math help from a certified teacher from 4:00 to 5:00 PM on Wednesday afternoons.   There are also special upcoming programs such as All About Owls presented by the Raptor Trust on Saturday at 11 a.m., and World of Music for Children presented Thursday Dec. 29 at 3:00 p.m.   The very popular summer reading club provides incentives to keep kids reading   when school is out so they do not lose the skills they have worked so hard to gain during the school year    The library also has four “AWE” computers that are loaded with a variety of educational software programs appropriate for children ages two through eight.

Adult programs include book clubs, memoir writing, films, special interest clubs such as mah jongg and canasta and a variety of programs geared to appeal to a broad range of interests.    Ms. Spindel also happily accepts suggestions from members of the community for new categories of programming.

According to Ms. Spindel, the library’s greatest resource is its staff.   In addition to giving a shout out to the people working behind the scenes to keep the library running, Ms. Spindel is very proud of the  welcoming and helpful  members of the staff who keep the circulation desk running under , the supervision of  Department Head and longtime library employee Karen Gallini.  

As required by NJ state law, Library Director Spindel holds a master’s degree in library service and has been the director in Springfield for the past three and a half years.  Prior to that, she served for sixteen years as the director of the Kenilworth Public Library and for three and a half years as the director of the Clark Public Library, in a library career that spans nearly forty years. 

Additional professional librarians on the staff include Susan Tegge (Head of Adult Services), Deborah Sandford (Head of Youth Services), Ian Allcock (Reference and Systems Librarian) and Alice Chunn (Teen and Emerging Technologies Librarian).

When speaking with Ms. Spindel, her love for the public library as an American institution is readily apparent.   She reminded me that although, at one time, the public library was often regarded as “the poor man’s university,” the description that she herself favors is the library as the “community’s living room.”   If you haven’t been by the library recently, Ms. Spindel wants to encourage you to drop by and become a part of the things that are going on.

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