Revitalizing the public library

Friends of the Library continue to support the Trenton Free Public Library with funded programming

The famous author Ray Bradbury once said, “ Without libraries what do we have? We have no past and no future”. The city of Trenton is very fortunate to have a public library with a great past.  In fact, the public library movement in New Jersey began in Trenton in 1750 with the establishment of the Trenton Library Company. The library was started with a substantial donation from Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, who was a friend of Benjamin Franklin. The library flourished until the British burned it down in 1776. 

The history of the current Trenton Free Public Library on Academy Street was a result of a public referendum by the voters of Trenton in the early 1900s. This ensured that municipal support for the library would be ongoing and consistent. Today, neither Dr. Cadwalader nor Dr. Franklin would recognize the library, as it has developed into a strong public institution providing a variety of services for all ages starting with preschool literacy programs. In addition to a wonderful print collection of books, the library also offers a range of technology services including the ability to use library cards to access books and movies through tablets or smartphones. One of the “gems” of our city  is the Trentoniana room at the library, which is a treasure trove of local history. If you ever want to know anything about the history of Trenton, this is the place to start.

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But what about the future of the library? The development of the library has always depended upon the assistance of “friends”. Beginning with Dr. Cadwalader, many people have contributed to the success of the library.  Friends of the Library is an organization that contributes to the advancement of public programming within the library system through fundraising activities. For instance, The Library Friends (as it’s sometimes called) creates programming geared toward literacy, diversity, local history, youth services and community outreach programs. Past events included author lectures and talks, book giveaways, and pop-up public book sales. The Library Friends make sure its presence is felt throughout many festivals and events around Trenton. Friends of the Library is currently revitalizing its organization in hopes of having residents join its mission to strengthen the public library. 

Here are the ways to get involved:

Currently, the Friends of the Library organization is trying to raise funds to establish an adult programming fund to expand the types of programs offered at the library. The organization hopes to present the Free Public Library with a check on its birthday in June in order to start these adult programming initiatives. To donate, click here.

If you haven’t been to the library in a while, The Library Friends offers tours and would love to welcome groups to explain the tremendous services available. Email to inquire about tours. 

Yes, the Trenton Free Public Library has had a great past, but with your support and involvement the future can be even better.

This article was written by Patricia Tumulty of Friends of the Trenton Free Public Library

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