deer-libraryA deer grazing outside the library in June, 2011. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge.)

Press release from Monmouth County Library

More than half a million books circulated. Close to a quarter of a million visitors. An additional 2400 patrons registered. All part of a very busy 2016 at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library during 2016, as Branch Manager Kim Avagliano reported to the Monmouth County Library Commission at its recent end of the year meeting.

Freeholder Lillian Burry, the Board of Freeholder’s liaison to the Library Commission, noted that with the addition of a door counter system, the library is able to keep more accurate statistics on the number of visitors — and so the idea of nearly one quarter of a million visits to one branch during the year is not a surprise, so much as proof the library is an integral part of the community.

“It has been a busy year with numerous programs offered every month, and movies, games, support groups and book clubs meeting every week,” Avagliano reported.  Among the programs presented monthly are programs especially designed to be of specific interest to senior citizens, book discussions, art exhibits and displays and programs on business and career planning. Annually, the Eastern Branch also offers tax assistance through its cooperation with the AARP, as well as live entertainment and book sales on a regular basis.

In keeping with the increased technology and equipment that is evident in each of the library’s 13 branches throughout Monmouth County, the Eastern Branch offers self-service printing, wireless printing, and an increase in the number of laptops for programs. Upgraded lines have also increased bandwidth, the annual report showed.

Avagliano told the Commissioners that the number of visitors to the Eastern Branch averages between 600 and 700 a day, totaling the approximate 240,000 who visited during 2016.

In addition to the programs, technology, clubs and programs, the Eastern Branch also offers its meeting room for an average of three separate meetings each day, with nearly 1,000 attendees in any given month for a variety of meetings. The library sponsors between 40 and 50 programs on a monthly basis, as well as hosts 20 to 30 community or government meetings each month. More than 10,000 persons have attended these meetings over the course of the year, Avagliano continued.

One of the program highlights during the past 12 months included the highly popular Ye Olde Monmouth County Book Faire, at which 15 different New Jersey authors had displays, signed autographs and gave brief talks on their works. The list for the first of what appears to be an annual event included a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and a documentary filmmaker, in addition to renowned and popular authors of both history and biography. Other programs which drew large crowds included Kevin Westley’s Irish Sing Along for St. Patrick’s Day, the Monmouth Civic Chorus in December, and Phil Bruschi’s program of songs introduced by Fred Astaire in the musical genre, as well as a photography exhibit and presentation recognizing the Centennial Year of the National Park Service.

The library celebrated New Jersey mysteries, myths and lore in a four part series that featured historians, reporters, and authors speaking on their books on a variety of mysteries and myths from the Lindbergh kidnapping to the New Jersey Devil.

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death was marked with a month long tribute to the Bard and his sonnets, and also included programs highlighting Jersey Shore poets and the poetry of African Americans.

Renee Swartz, Chairperson of the Library Commission, noted  it isn’t only the interior of the Eastern Branch that is attractive and inviting, pointing out that “Credit goes to the Master Gardeners who consistently do a magnificent job of not only maintaining the very attractive islands at the entrance to the library, but also changing live exhibits seasonally to ensure both beauty and protection of the environment.

“Their work and dedication, coupled with the clearing of old shrubs and addition of new trees on the westerly side of the building, keeps Eastern Branch Library a most attractive as well as inviting resource in Monmouth County.”

Looking forward to 2017, Swartz added she is excited about plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eastern Branch Area Reference Center which will take place in 2018, as well as studies and plans which will culminate in improved use of the library’s existing floor plan in order to meet its ever rising demands for meeting and study space. Expansion of the Career Connections services and programs, as well as increased computer and technology programs for the general public, will keep the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library the center of attention it currently is and will continue to be in the future.