Fanwood Library Improvement Project FAQs

Why does Fanwood need any library in a digital age?

Despite the advent of the digital age, public libraries across the nation are busier than ever, and the Fanwood Memorial Library is no exception.

In 2018, our library was the most used public building in the borough (see the infographic). More than 46,000 people came through our doors, 42,500+ items were borrowed, we served up 10,300 high-speed free Wi-Fi connections, 5,400+ books were read by summer reading club kids, 5,450 people held a library card, 3,490 ebooks & audiobooks circulated, 2,020 people subscribed to the newsletter, and over 1,500 people borrowed or bought a MuseumPass.

Onsite services increased 3% and programming continues to draw ample audiences of all ages. The library also provides space, equipment, and materials for dozens of community organizations.

Why does Fanwood need a new library?

The infrastructure of the current building, constructed in 1951 and added to in 1980, is failing. The building is not at all ADA compliant or accessible, and there are significant problems with the roof, HVAC, water issues, lighting and more, as well as of course, lack of adequate space.

With the explosion of the Internet, our library, like others across the nation, no longer functions as only a resource of printed material. On-site services, e-book and audio book circulation, and program attendance have skyrocketed, especially in recent years —all in a building designed 68 years ago for completely different purposes.

Why does Fanwood need a bigger library?

We need bigger spaces — to accommodate growth in population, circulation, demand for services, and interest in visiting the library.

We also need better spaces — for the way people use the library. Seniors will no longer have to stand during popular programs. Teens can gather in a safe place. Telecommuters and home business owners can access tools for working remotely. Kids and their families can read together and collaborate on projects. Groups small and large will be able to meet, host events, and present programs. And to ensure that strollers and wheelchairs can access both levels, the design includes an elevator and restrooms.

Can I still check out books?

Yes! As always, you’ll be able to choose a book directly from the stacks, browse titles in the catalogue, and borrow just about any book from any other library.

What about parking?

We hope to add one or two parking spaces in the existing area and perhaps provide staff-only parking on Tillotson Road.

Why not fix up the existing library?

We could. But simply repairing the roof and siding wouldn’t solve the access or space problems. With more than 42,800 visitors per year, our library is by far the most used public building in our growing borough — up 7% since 2000, over a third of them children. Each one needs access to resources only a 21st-century ADA-compliant building and professional librarians can provide.

Where will the library provide services during construction?

We will work hard to continue services and programming for patrons of all ages in a temporary location. It is too early to be able to determine an interim location.

Will the new building cost more to operate?

The new space has been carefully designed to function at current operating levels. Along with increased square footage, the design includes excellent sight lines for current staff to oversee patron activity, so there should be no need for additional staff.

How long will construction take?

We estimate that the new library should open 18 to 24 months after construction begins.

Why does it cost so much?

Every household now pays for a library, but only some Fanwoodians are able to use it. With proper access and spaces, the new building would accommodate residents of all abilities.

The building has not expanded since 1980 when the population was smaller and the need for services much less. So enlarging the building is actually overdue. And any construction requires us to provide access for visitors of all abilities. The elevator and restrooms alone eat up about one-fourth of the cost. But if we qualify for the state’s matching funds, Fanwood would be responsible for only about half of the total construction cost.

Will it add value to my property?

Libraries strengthen communities by offering safe informal spaces to connect people to services, materials, and help. Libraries have become hubs of activity and refuge. A Philadelphia study showed that houses within a quarter mile of a library added an average of $9,000 to the house’s value. A bigger and better library that’s near the train station, bus stops, and revitalized downtown offers additional value for commuters and shoppers.

How will we pay for it?

The Library Improvement Project is a public-private endeavor. The state will pay about half. The town will pay about half. And the Board of Trustees will undertake a fund-raising efforet that will cover the balance and many of the ‘extras’ the library will need like furniture, technology, public art and more.

What’s the tax impact?

The NJ Office of Legislative Services says the impact on taxpayers of the state grant would be about $1 per person per year for 35 years. Local funding is unknown at this time.