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New Branch of Camden County Library Officially Opened April 4th

New Branch of Camden County Library Officially Opened April 4th 

Freeholder Ian K. Leonard hosted the event and Haddonfield author Dan Gutman entertained Camden City schoolchildren

Freeholder Ian K. Leonard hosted the event On April 4th, the Camden County Board of Freeholders, the Camden County Library Commission and Rutgers-Camden unveiled the result of a unique partnership to locate a branch of the Camden County Library in downtown Camden within the Paul Robeson Library.

Judging from the comments made by government officials, educators and, perhaps most importantly, the schoolchildren who attended the event, the new library exceeded everyone’s expectations.

From the lively colors to the computer stations and community room, the new branch extended a big welcome to those who came to visit and be impressed.

“This public/private partnership is a national model that will provide new resources to city and county residents,” said Freeholder Ian K. Leonard, Freeholder Board liaison to the County Library System.

“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.

 Camden County Library Director Linda Devlin“We had a great partner in Rutgers-Camden Chancellor, Wendell Pritchett, and great support from Camden Mayor Dana Redd. Ed McDonnell, Deputy Director of the Camden County Freeholder Board and I worked for more than 100 hours with Chancellor Pritchett and Vice Chairman Larry Gaines on creating a concept that would become a national model,  and totally unique in the tri-state area,” Leonard said. “Linda Devlin, Director of the Camden County Library System, added her expertise to the plan and led a talented 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, job seekers and seniors.”

Senator Donald Norcross thanked Freeholder Leonard for his vision and leadership on the project, and thanked Mayor Redd for her vision for the future of Camden City.

“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.”

Deputy Director McDonnell thanked the Rutgers Chancellor and faculty for welcoming “little children here and having them in this library space. Thank you for believing they are worth any liveliness they may bring with them for the hope and learning they can find here.”

“This is a great day for Rutgers-Camden,” said Chancellor Pritchett, who supported the project from day one. “Five years from now, we will look back and see how significant this achievement was.”

“This is a proud and profound day for Camden City,” said Mayor Redd. “Our thanks go to Freeholder Leonard and Deputy Director McDonnell to reaching out to us at a critical time, when we were facing closing our libraries and providing a solution through this partnership with Rutgers-Camden. Wait until you see the inside. This is a vibrant space that will knock your socks off,” she said.

But it was the faces of the 30 schoolchildren, listening raptly to award-winning children’s author Dan Gutman in the new library’s glass-fronted community room, that said it all.

In those faces of students from Camden’s R.C. Molina Elementary School, Cooper Poynt School and LEAP Academy was the future of the City. Observing them, Mayor Redd said, “That’s why I fight so hard for them every day.”

The new library branch is a great place for Camden residents to come—to read, to study, to do job search or listen to an author, or just experience a university environment that could open up a whole new world to them.

“A library is hope, promise and renewal,” said Linda Devlin, Director of the Camden County Library System. “It makes powerful changes in people’s lives.”

She explained that when the County took over the city’s Ferry Avenue Library branch in February, 2011, 600 items were checked out each month. Now, 6,000 items are checked out each month.


Photos from the Camden County Website.   See full-sized slideshow


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