Last November New Jersey voters passed the NJ Library Construction Bond Act, making $125 million available in the future for public library construction. “In the future” have become the key words. According to the NJ State Library Website:
The State Library has submitted draft regulations to the appropriate [state] agencies for this program which we anticipate will appear in the New Jersey Register in late Summer 2018. After a public comment period of thirty days the regulations will be finalized and printed in final form in the New Jersey Register in Fall 2018. After the final printing of the regulations, guidelines and applications for the grant program will be sent to all New Jersey public libraries.*
If all goes as planned the township should be able to apply for the grant funds this fall.
Since last spring the library has been working with the township to prepare for the grant writing process. The library has been anticipating what information and documents will be required in the application. We are confident that we have whatever materials the State Library will require. Our project has been in the planning process for nearly 10 years and is shovel-ready. We have over $2 million raised so we easily meet the requirements for a 1:1 match of grant funds.
But the application is just the beginning. There will be a 3 month period when applications are accepted before any decisions are made by the state and grants are awarded. If we are fortunate enough to receive a grant we will be ready to go out for bid on the project immediately. Still we are looking at 2019 before construction can begin. It’s been a long wait but I am extremely hopeful that 2019 will be the year of the new library!
Thanks to a $3,250 grant from FedEx Corporation, teens in Cranbury and surrounding areas will have more opportunities to participate in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) classes and events at the Cranbury Public Library. “Already we have put some of the funds to good use by purchasing five Chromebooks for teens to checkout and use in the library,” said Joanne Dera the library’s Technology Specialist. “We also offer coding classes, engineering challenges, and maker projects.”
The ultimate goal of the grant is to help construct, equip and furnish the teen and creative spaces in new library and community center. These spaces will give teens in Cranbury a place to use technology and work collaboratively on projects of their choice. “For now our dream of a new library with separate areas for adults, children and teens has been put on hold until the Construction Bond Act funds become available,” said Marilynn Mullen, Library Director, “but we wanted to get the teens excited about the new space and the possibilities there. Purchasing the Chromebooks now and offering more technology classes provide a small step toward our future.”
Last summer Foundation members learned that FedEx Corporation offers charitable grants to programs that assist teens and young adults in learning skills that lead to greater access to jobs and opportunity, especially in the fields of technology and logistics. Foundation members applied for the FedEx grant to help fund the new Teen and Creative space. – a S.T.E.A.M. Initiative. To be successful in today’s world it is imperative for teens to have a basic understanding of technology, including computer coding and engineering, as well as to develop collaborative skills. Currently Cranbury has no space for teens to congregate and work together productively. This initiative will give teens the equipment, training in its use, and the space to work together. Learning these skills will open new opportunities to them and help them to succeed in future endeavors.
The new library in Cranbury is steadily moving forward! The Cranbury Public Library and the Cranbury Township Committee are partnering to apply for the new state construction bond to secure the remaining funding for the Cranbury Library project and breaking ground in 2018. A new construction program, the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act, was overwhelmingly approved by New Jersey voters on November 7 (In Cranbury, the program passed 2-to-1). This program will make $125 million available for public library construction projects: to build new and/or expanded library buildings, as well as rehabilitate or make improvements to libraries to make them more energy efficient and/or ADA compliant.
Now that Governor Murphy has been inaugurated, a program office has been set up at the New Jersey State Library (NJSL) to administer the construction bond program. The funding criteria is being finalized, which will be followed by an open comment period. According to the new program director, the application window may open as early as May and will be open for three months. The program requires local matching in order to be awarded funds; prior expenditures do not count towards this local matching.
The Cranbury Library Foundation has raised approximately $2.5 MM toward the project through 700+ resident and corporate donations; Cranbury Township has allocated $475,000 for site work and a new municipal parking lot adjacent to the proposed building. Architectural drawing and site engineering is complete, so the project is considered “shovel ready,” which should make it an attractive candidate for this state construction program. Last summer, before the library construction bond act was signed by then-Governor Christie, the project went out to bid through a public bidding process. The lowest bids were approximately $400,000 more than available funds, so the bids were rejected. The library construction bond is considered the best path forward to complete the project in 2018.
“We are excited that the New Jersey State Library is moving forward with this important program for the libraries of our state,” explained Cranbury Public Library Director Marilynn Mullen. “Many of New Jersey’s libraries are in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades.” Cranbury is now the last combined public/school library in New Jersey, a model favored in the 1950s and 1960s that has been phased out over the past 50 years due the divergent missions and security requirements of public and school libraries. We hope that between the significant funds raised to date and the shovel-ready design, our project will meet the criteria for this library construction program.
Michael Ferrante, Foundation President
The Library Foundation and the Library Board are waiting for the Construction Bond application criteria to be released by the NJ State Library. Unfortunately it may be awhile. Rest assured that we are keeping in contact with those administering the program.
In the meantime you can:
- Continue to support us when you shop at AmazonSmile.
- Save your McCaffery’s receipts! McCaffery’s has given us over $5,000 in donations for the new library. New rules say the register tape cannot be older than 3 months so stop in the library often to drop them off at the desk.
- Purchase a brick. Buy a Brick here. (Brick purchases are donations and they can be matched by your employer.)
- Make donations. Maybe there is someone you would like to honor or donate in their memory.
Thank you for your continued support. 2018 is the year!