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County Library Opens New Branch in Camden NJ on Rutgers Campus

Unique model of community library in an academic setting serves urban residents


 Camden County Library System Director Linda Devlin at the opening of the new branch library in Camden, NJ on the Rutgers-Camden campus.

Elementary students from public, parochial and charter schools wait for autographs from children’s author Dan Gutman who read at the grand opening of the new branch of the Camden County Library System in down-town Camden on the Rutgers-Camden University campus.

VOORHEES, N.J. – May 2, 2012 -- In early April the Camden County Board of Freeholders, the Camden County Library Commission and Rutgers University-Camden unveiled the result of a unique partnership to locate a branch of the Camden County Library in downtown Camden, NJ within the Paul Robeson Library.

Judging from the comments made by government officials, educators and, perhaps most importantly, by the reaction of the schoolchildren who attended the grand-opening event, the new library exceeds everyone’s expectations.

“What is amazing about this project is that by thinking creatively we came up with an innovative solution to provide additional library services to Camden residents,” states Camden County Library Director Linda Devlin.

From its lively colors to the computer stations and community room, the new branch extends a big welcome to the residents in Camden’s downtown neighborhoods, which the new branch will directly serve.

“The space is beautifully designed and the partnership with Rutgers-Camden will allow us to work together to provide unique programming and educational opportunities,” Devlin points out.

The new branch features a 20 seat state-of-the-art computer classroom, a space dedicated to children’s programming, 22 additional computers for public use, while offering the most popular, in demand current fiction, nonfiction, movies and periodicals.

Camden County Freeholder Ian K. Leonard, Freeholder Board liaison to the County Library System worked closely with Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett for over a year to make the new branch a reality

“We knew from the beginning that creating 5,000 square feet of space for our Library system within Rutgers-Camden’s Paul Robeson Library was an innovative idea that excited all of our imaginations in terms of the possibilities and benefits for the community,” said Freeholder Leonard.

Leonard credits Devlin as the county library system’s director for, “adding her expertise to the plan. She lead a team that transformed a 5,000 square-foot space into a state-of-the-art library that serves everyone from toddlers to high school and college students, jobs seekers and seniors,” said Leonard.

“The partnership with Rutgers-Camden will result in innovative programming as library’s staff collaborates with staff from Rutgers Center for Early Childhood Development and Future Scholars Program,” said Devlin, who anticipates the new branch will have a profound impact and benefit on the neighborhoods it serves. She told the assembled guests and onlookers at the grand opening event, “A library is hope, promise and renewal. It makes powerful changes in people’s lives.”

Freeholder Leonard predicts the new branch will become a national model and is unique in the tri-state area of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

New Jersey State Senator Donald Norcross thanked Freeholder Leonard for his vision and leadership on the project, and thanked Camden Mayor Dana Redd for her support of the library project as key to the city’s future.

“A century ago, libraries were the cornerstone of learning and education in our cities,” the Senator said. “These two branches in Camden City—the one here and Ferry Avenue—fulfill that promise.”

Devlin noted the on-going success of the county’s first branch library in Camden city. Since the county assumed operation of the recently renamed Riletta L. Cream Ferry Ave. Branch in February of 2011, circulation has grown by ten times from an initial 600 items to over 6,000 items borrowed each month, according the county library director.

“This is a proud and profound day for Camden City,” said Mayor Redd. “Our thanks go to Freeholder Leonard and Deputy Freeholder Director Ed McDonnell for reaching out to us at a critical time, when we faced the prospect of having to close our libraries and for providing a solution through this partnership with Rutgers-Camden.”

But it was the look on the faces of the 30 schoolchildren at the grand opening event, listening raptly to award-winning children’s author Dan Gutman in the new library’s glass-fronted community room that confirmed the importance of the new branch and its promise of success.

The students from Camden’s R.C. Molina Elementary School, Cooper Poynt School and LEAP Academy are the future of the city observed Mayor Redd, who added, “That’s why I fight so hard for them every day.”

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Established in 1921, Camden County Library System seeks to meet the recreational, informational and educational needs of its customers with locations in Bellmawr, Camden, Gloucester Township, Haddon Township, Merchantville, Winslow Township and Voorhees.   The Library is governed and supported by the Camden County Board of Freeholders and the Camden County Library Commission.

 

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