By the end of this summer, the Priscilla Gardner Main Library at 472 Jersey Ave. in Jersey City will move to its final phase of renovations.
“We’ve been putting a lot of work into really making sure this amazing historic building continues to serve the public for another 100 years,” said Public Information Officer Shane Smith.
Since 2014, the historic main library has been undergoing renovations, including replacing the grand old elevator and bringing the building which opened in 1901 up to federal code.
In its third phase of renovations, the library is tackling the fourth floor that will include a larger space for the Biblioteca Criolla, the library’s Spanish language collection, as well as an art gallery.
The fourth floor will also include much-needed community event space in the form of a multi-purpose room.
According to Smith, this phase is anticipated to be completed by the end of summer. “Then we will be moving onto the final phases, which in some ways is the most ambitious phase,” Smith said.
During this final phase, the library’s grand staircase will be refurbished, new restrooms will be created, and the HVAC and electrical upgrades will be completed.
The final phase will create a new auditorium, book stacks and environmentally controlled documents storage, office space for the administration, and a new teen space.
Renovations will expand barrier-free access, including stroller access, “something we heard loud and clear that the community wanted,” said Smith.
This final phase was made possible by The New Jersey State Legislature with $5 million from the Library Construction Bond Act and a match by the city.
The Library Construction Bond Act, approved by voters in November 2017, authorized $125 million to fund critical improvements to the state’s public libraries. The JCFPL was among the top ten largest projects of the 129 applications.
The system is also adding a Johnston Avenue Branch in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood and plans to renovate the Miller Avenue Branch.
New and improved
A new STEM-focused branch on Johnston Avenue will be on on the ground floor of a new residential building.
According to Emerging Technology Librarian Ayoola White, the space is ideal because it is already ADA accessible with both a small set of stairs and a ramp to the corner location which has easily modifiable interior space.
The branch will include a community room for meetings and presentations with seating for up to 50, as well as a recording studio that could be used for music or podcasts.
She said the branch will include 3D printers and maker space with sewing kits.
Smith said the STEM-focused branch and will not replace the existing Lafayette Branch on Pacific Avenue.
“We are really hoping to welcome folks from all over the city to utilize the services in this branch and in particular, folks from the neighborhood,” said Smith.
Renovations would make the building ADA accessible and refurbish some of its historic features, including the internal skylight, upgrade the heating and cooling equipment, and renovate the basement auditorium.
The team is working on finalizing the plan for the Miller Branch at 489 Bergen Ave. in order to submit it to the state for the next round of funding from the Library Construction Bond Act.