Hillside welcomes public to open house of library

Closed since August of 2013 due to flooding, township is ready to show off renovations

HILLSIDE, NJ — Hillside Public Library celebrates the open house of the renovated library on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 4 p.m. The library, which closed its doors on Aug. 28, 2013, after withstanding decades of problems, is now structurally ready to re-open. The closure was the result of major flash flood water damage to the entire lower level impacting the operations of the library and the construction offices.

The damage to the floors was extensive and large sections of the roof were completely replaced, according to a press release from Hillside. In addition, the lower areas in the building had to undergo severe mold remediation and asbestos abatement, from the removal of rugs and untreated water damaged walls throughout, including all the books treated and cleaned, as well as all the areas under the book stacks and furniture thoroughly inspected after the initial cleanup failed to uncover years of neglect that needed to be remedied throughout the space.

Several township officials collaborated to launch a complete redesign of the space to meet staffing and patron needs and designed the space to meet ADA accessibility needs and refine the space to become more efficient.

“This library closure was a devastating loss for the community, but I am grateful that we are finally at the point to re-open,” said Mayor Angela Garretson in a release. “I am grateful to the library boards and trustees throughout Union County, as they allowed our residents to utilize their services during the township’s time of need.”

There were many challenges along the way, from the resignation of former director Dave Cubie, who worked closely with the Hillside Board of Trustees and Union County Library Consortium during the initial stages of the closure that addressed 50 percent of the cleanup from Aug. 28 to Dec. 31, 2013, and exchanged ongoing communication with his colleagues at neighboring branches and work assignments for the staff.

According to acting Library Director Michelle Mitchell, the library board of trustees is now seeking applicants for a new library director. In a memo to the Board of Trustees Chairman Sam McGhee, the neighboring libraries will conclude the borrowing arrangement as of March 1.

The open house celebration kicks off with municipal complex tours and a meeting with elected officials from every level of government.

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