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History of the Camden County Library System

Staff member Lou Perry delivers books in the Library Van.The Camden County Library was established in 1921 to serve rural parts of the county. Prior to its founding in 1921, all citizens of Camden County had to travel to Camden, NJ to access a public library.  Service consisted of selecting and delivering small collections of books to schools and other lcations used to house books -- firehouses, stores, and even homes were enlisted. The headquarters library served primarily as a storage facility

Until 1931, the library occupied rented rooms in Haddonfield. Its first annual report showed a collection of 9,167 books.  In need of more space, the library then moved to the original courthouse in Camden. A Model-A Ford served as the first bookmobile.  In 1953, the library moved to the basement of the new County Courthouse, where it remained for almost 20 years. By 1966 it was nearly forgotten. Its revival began with a new Commission who appointed a professional librarian and made plans for relocation.

Here are a few photos and documents we found in our archives showing some of the history of the library.

Historic Camden County Library Photos and Documents

  • 1969    The library leases space in the new Echelon Mall in Voorhees. Library usage increases quickly to the point where the new headquarters are inadequate.
  • 1973    Camden County Library is designated Area Reference Library to Camden and Gloucester Counties.
  • 1975    Haddon Township and Winslow Township Libraries join the county system as branch libraries.
  • 1977    The main library moves to the new headquarters building across from the Echelon Mall. It is built on land given to the county by the Rouse Company.
  • 1977    Gloucester Township Library becomes a branch.
  • 1983   Literacy Volunteers begin to work out of the Voorhees Branch.
  • 1986    Winslow Township Branch moves into new building.
  • 1987    The Camden County Library is designated Reference Center for Region VI of New Jersey Library Network.
  • 1989    Gloucester Township Library moves into a new facility.
  • 1993    Haddon Township Library moves into its new building. Use of all four facilities is so high that plans to expand the Voorhees branch and build a regional library in the southern part of the county.
  • 1995    CamNet is introduced, providing Internet access and other library resources to participating schools. Internet access is provided for the public at the Camden County Library.
  • 1996    Celebrating our 75th Anniversary; we top one million in circulation.
  • 1997    The South Jersey Regional Technology Center opens to the public; branches offer Internet access.  The Bellmawr Branch of the Camden County Library opens in December.
  • 1999    The Camden County Library Reading Center at Merchantville School and Public Library opens in March. Construction begins in fall for the new South County Branch.  
  • 2000    The South County Regional Branch opens in December, 2000.
  • 2001    Camden County Library becomes the New Jersey Statewide Reference Center.
  • 2001    Camden County Library joins other libraries in New Jersey to offer QandA NJ, a virtual reference service.
  • 2004    The Voorhees Township Branch is renamed the M. Allan Vogelson Regional Branch, to honor the former county freeholder who led the planning efforts to build the facility.
  • 2005    Camden County Library offers downloadable audiobooks to its patrons.  Shelf Life, a library annex, opens at the Echelon Mall in Voorhees, NJ.
  • 2006    Shelf Life closes when the Echelon Mall is redesigned.
  • 2007    Downloadable video is introduced.
  • 2008    Patrons can register for programs and events online.
  • 2011    Camden City becomes a member of the system and the Ferry Ave. Library becomes a branch of the Camden County Library System.
  • 2012   The Library System worked with Rutgers University to create a new branch inside the Robeson Library on the Rutgers Camden campus.. 
  • 2014   Career Online High School helps adults get their high school degrees.
  • 2014   Museum passes are added to the collection.
  • 2019   The Library System eliminated late fines for most materials, becoming the first county library system in New Jersey to do so.
  • 2021   The Library System began to lend hotspots to help provide Internet access at home to members.
  • 2022   The Library System begins to lend Google Chromebooks.