Union County Library Grant Awards presented

UNION COUNTY, NJ — On Aug. 19, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders presented the 2016 Union County Library Grant Awards to 20 libraries. The grants will be utilized to support children’s programs. The grand total of the grant amounted to $150,000, more than double the amount of last year. The Library Grants Program is part of Union County Chairman Bruce Bergen’s “Union County at Work and Play” 2016 initiative for countywide economic development and quality-of-life improvements.

“Educational activities are a fundamental part of a library’s mission, and these grants will help our local public libraries meet the growing demand for up-to-date children’s programming throughout the Union County community,” said Bergen in a recent press release.

Union received the most amount of money from the grant, with a total of $7,764. Library Director Karen O’Malley was unavailable for comment when contacted by LocalSource. Several libraries received $7,500 in grant money, including Clark, Elizabeth, Garwood, Hillside, Kenilworth, Mountainside, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Springfield and Summit. All attempts to contact Clark, Summit, Springfield and Mountainside library directors by phone and email were unsuccessful.

“We are using the money to bring highly engaging and entertaining programming to our local children,” Library Director MaryFaith Chmiel of Elizabeth Public Library told LocalSource in an email. “Most was spent in support of the summer reading club, and allowed us to bring almost all weekly special programs to our main location and our three branches. We had a very positive response to these events and, as a consequence, many more children participated in our summer reading program. More books read. More knowledge retained. More fun, more engagement for everyone!”

The Elizabeth Public Library hosted many events during the summer for its children. A visit from special guests, such as a therapy horse, were just one of the activities enjoyed. Encouraging children to become more active in their libraries is the main goal of the 2016 Library Grant Program.

Several libraries received just a bit less than $7,500. These included Cranford, Fanwood, New Providence, Scotch Plains and Westfield. The smallest amounts were given to Berkeley Heights and Linden. Last year, the response to the grant money was reportedly very enthusiastic, which resulted in an increase in the amount of funds received this year.

“Last year was the inaugural year of the grant program, and the enthusiastic response from Union County libraries demonstrated that there was strong demand for continuing the program this year, and expanding it as well,” said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, who originated the grant program, in a recent press release.

The program is funded with non-tax dollars for the benefit of local, non-school libraries. It is designed to help libraries upgrade facilities, programming and materials that directly benefit children’s literature and activities. The grant program also covers planning documents. The 2016 grant recipients will use their funds for various projects, including science programs, coding classes, robotics clubs, summer and after-school reading programs, technology upgrades, children’s books, educational toys and furniture for children’s areas.