More than 50 residents crowded a new facility on Kennedy Boulevard on Sept. 21 to welcome something they had never seen before: their own neighborhood library.
The crowd was “joyous” when Mayor Nicholas Sacco cut the ribbon to officially open the North Bergen Free Public Library’s Kennedy Branch, near 21st Street, according to Library Director Sai Rao.
“I think the joy was just infectious,” Rao said. “People were happy and excited.”
“North Bergen’s geography can make it a challenge for downtown residents to get the same services as the rest of the township, and we are working to change that,” said Sacco. The mayor said the new library branch will give area residents a place to gather for access to library services, programs, and classes, and for community events.
Volumes and volumes
The library features nine desktop computers and 12 laptops, all with Internet access. It has also
1,400 books, 100 DVDs and 30 video games. It will soon be adding 300 CDs.
The hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 to 8; Friday, 10 to 5; and Saturday, 10-3. It is closed on Sundays.
Need was realized
Rao said the need for the satellite library became evident over the last couple of years, as downtown and midtown residents mentioned to her how difficult it was for them to get to the 82nd Street main branch.
“People came in cabs,” she said. “One woman said it was difficult to transport her two children.”
The location of the municipality’s lone library, at the north end of town, was a hardship for those in school too.
“A lot of students couldn’t come for their assignments because it was far away,” Rao said.
But now, area residents are enjoying the benefits of their local branch.
Great facility, service
“It’s nice. It’s beautiful,” said library patron Elizabeth Rosado on Sept. 23, the first full day for the library. “The service is the professional kind. The library is informative. Very informative.”
Lisa Ben was also visiting, with her niece, Zyion Blanco, only two and half years old.
“We’re looking for Dora,” said Blanco, of her quest for Dora the Explorer volumes.
“We came just to explore the library,” Ben said. “It's real convenient for us. We live right around the corner. We can come and enjoy the books and all the activities.”
While the new library was out of Dora copies, officials promised to get one for her soon. The preschooler settled for “Kiss Kiss Good Night” by Kenn Nesbitt and Rebecca Elliott.
“People were happy and excited.” – Sai Rao
Sanchez had taken her children to a nearby pediatric practice, saw that the library was open, and decided to take a look.
“The kids want to read,” she said. “The other library is very, very far for us, and I don’t have a car.”
Sanchez was hoping to spend about 30 minutes there with her children, and wound up staying longer.
The library already has a full slate of classes and activities for adults. They are: Basic Computer Training, English for Beginners & Citizenship Classes, Knitting Club, Senior Citizen Game Day, Senior Citizen Movie Matinee, and Tech Express (in English and Spanish).
A number of Early Childhood programs have also been scheduled. These are: Baby Lapsit, Bedtime Story Hour, Craft-Tales, and Multimedia Moments.
In addition, signups for the library’s fall programs, which run Oct. 7 through Dec. 19, start this week. Registration begins on Monday, Sept. 30, at 10:30 a.m., is open to North Bergen residents, and must be done in person. Proof of age and residency are required. For more information, call (201) 869-4715.
Officials on hand
Along with Sacco, who is also a New Jersey state senator, a number of state officials attended the 40-minute ribbon cutting ceremony. Among them were: State Librarian Michelle Stricker, Deputy State Librarian Kathleen Peiffer, and New Jersey Library Association Executive Director Pat Tumulty.
County officials included Sheriff Frank Schillari and Surrogate Donald De Leo, as well as Executive Director Robert White and Library Service Director Arlene Sahraie of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.
Local officials included Township Administrator Christopher Pianese, Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Allen Pascual, and Frank Gargiulo, and library board members.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.