An attractive space for kids to mingle, not centered around video games. A way to perk up foot traffic in the Galaxy Towers Mall. A new place for seniors to meet, and greater convenience for Guttenberg library users who previously had to trek to the North Bergen library branches. These are some of the hopes pinned to the new Guttenberg Resource Center inside the Galaxy Towers Mall that opened on July 31.
The center will feature every resource the North Bergen Library already offers, including ESL classes, citizenship exam preparation, and career assistance. The opening also makes history, because it is reportedly the first time in New Jersey that one municipality has opened a library branch in another, according to North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and North Bergen Library Director Sai Rao.
The center’s hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The center will be closed on Sundays. Fridays will feature special programming hours, including storytelling for children from 10 to 11 a.m.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the center is looking to bring in entertainers for children. From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be senior activities, such as movies and board games.
The idea for the center, according to Sacco, came around two years ago. Rao approached him and said that Guttenberg deserved its own separate library branch with equal services.
Guttenberg residents typically went to the North Bergen Library locations on Bergenline Avenue and JFK Boulevard, indicative of the shared service agreements between both towns, such as Guttenberg students going to North Bergen for their high school years, their combined school recreational programs, and a jointly-operated waterfront park.
Sacco was receptive to the idea, but said Guttenberg would have to agree, which Mayor Wayne Zitt readily did.
“It took a lot of work to get it done, but today, it’s a reality – we’re here,” Zitt said at the ribbon-cutting. “It’s monumental.”
“One can dream and wish, but someone has to make it happen,” Rao said, before thanking Zitt and Sacco for bringing the center to Guttenberg. She called her staff “the best in town.”
In celebration for the opening, Rao strategically stacked books in the center, one atop the other, with a triumphant motif, with titles such as “Small Great Things,” by Jodi Picoult; “Against All Odds,” by Danielle Steel; and “Perfect Wish,” by Joseph Capriccioso.
“I don’t have to go all the way to 85th Street and Bergenline anymore.” – Debora Garcia
Popular with the public
Visitors and nearby residents gave the center strong reviews.
“I don’t have to go all the way to 85th Street and Bergenline anymore,” said Guttenberg resident Debora Garcia, referencing the North Bergen Main Library location. “It feels open, not like the other location.”
Rutherford resident Sam Michaels came to the Galaxy Towers to pick up his son for piano lessons, so he decided to see the center, too.
“This is a great way to get people into the Galaxy Mall,” he said. “The mall is not doing well financially, so this could help with foot traffic. The center is a great space for kids to do their homework, story time, and they have programming for elders.”
Guttenberg locals who seldom interact with Galaxy could start coming more frequently, because of the center, Michaels feels.
“I feel that it’s a very good central location,” North Bergen resident Jose Vazquez said. “I’ll try it out a few times.” He was open to bringing his granddaughter on a regular basis.
Fairview Library Director Kristen Nelson came to show support. “I’m so impressed with the work done so quickly,” she said. “It’s modern and inviting, and it’s a beautiful space.”
“If you watch television and see a commercial with a group of librarians, and they are shushing other people, that’s what a library is to me,” Sacco said, during the ceremony. “When you see what’s going to take place here, it’s a place that’s alive, it’s a community place. It won’t be a place where they’re going to say, ‘Quiet down.’”
Visitors also left encouraging comments in a book on the center’s main desk.
“We’re so excited to welcome you to the neighborhood!” one person wrote. “Best of luck from the Secaucus Public Library!” wrote Lee Penna, who is that branch’s community outreach coordinator.
Guttenberg will pay a monthly charge of $29,000 to North Bergen for providing its services to the center. It is part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS), a resource sharing consortium of 77 public libraries through Northern New Jersey, including Hudson, Bergen, Essex, and Passaic counties.
That means anyone with a BCCLS card could have an item from one participating branch sent to another, such as having a book from the Secaucus or Weehawken Public Libraries, which are BCCLS branches, transferred to the Guttenberg center for pickup.
Attendees to the ribbon-cutting included North Bergen Mayor and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, Rao, and Guttenberg Administrator Cosmo Crillo. They each offered a few words before a ribbon cutting for the center. State Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schilari, and former Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff also attended.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com