NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Thursday delivered to the Legislature a list of proposed projects for the first round of funding from the Library Construction Bond Act (LCBA). The Library Construction Bond Act authorized $125 million in state bonds to fund critical improvements to New Jersey public libraries. The bond issuance was approved by New Jersey voters in November 2017 and all applicants were required to identify a 50 percent match to fund their proposed projects.
38 highly-rated projects from 16 counties across the state were recommended to the Legislature to receive funding from the Act. Currently, $87.5 million is available to be distributed among these projects during this initial round. More than 129 applications were reviewed by a committee comprised of experts from across relevant State agencies, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Community Affairs, the New Jersey Treasury, and the New Jersey Historical Commission, among others.
“From major building renovations to vital technology upgrades, this bond program will transform our libraries to better serve and be more accessible to their local communities,” Murphy said. “I want to thank the State Librarian and President Hancock at Thomas Edison State University, as well as our partner agencies, on their collaborative work toward this effort.”
“New Jersey libraries continue to respond to the needs of our communities and are working tirelessly to bridge the digital divide and keep residents connected to many critical services which have become all the more essential in recent months,” said Mary Chute, New Jersey State Librarian. “We are eager to see local libraries break ground on these much-needed projects, which will make library facilities safer, more efficient, and more accessible for all people.”
“I am thrilled New Jersey has made this investment in our valuable library infrastructure,” said Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, President of Thomas Edison State University. “The Library Construction Bond makes a significant impact through crucial library improvements that better serve our residents and support the educational and community priorities of the state.”
Of the 16 counties represented in the proposed project list, LCBA awards are recommended for projects in:
- Freehold Township (Monmouth)
- Monroe Township (Middlesex)
- Ringwood Borough (Passaic)
- River Edge Borough (Bergen)
- South Brunswick Township (Middlesex)
- Totowa Borough (Passaic)
- City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County)
These awards will specifically address HVAC improvements as well as other improvements in the library environment.
In addition to other improvements, technology upgrades that improve public access to information and modernize community space are proposed for:
- Cranbury Township (Middlesex)
- Franklin Township (Gloucester)
- Jersey City (Hudson)
- Maplewood Township (Essex),
- Pennsauken Township (Camden)
- Roselle Borough (Union)
- Sussex and Monmouth County Libraries
To accommodate disabled residents and meet ADA requirements, awards are proposed for:
- Bernardsville Borough (Somerset)
- Red Bank Borough (Monmouth)
- Dover (Morris)
- Fanwood Borough (Union)
- Leonia Borough (Bergen)
- Cape May County Library (Cape May)
- Avon-by-the-Sea (Monmouth)
- Garfield (Bergen)
Disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities—such as the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany, where one-third of residents are born outside the United States— are also proposed for an LCBA award.
As required by statute, the State Librarian, in consultation with the President of Thomas Edison State University, is responsible for the administration and oversight of the Library Construction Bond Act. The New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority will be assisting the State Librarian to ensure compliance and the post-issuance work related to this bond. The proposed project list is currently pending review with the Legislature. Once approved, appropriated funding will be granted to these projects. The full list of awardees will be available when it is sent to the Legislature for Appropriation Act approval.
A second round of awards is planned for the first quarter of 2021.