CLARK, NJ — Clark Library celebrated its 50-year anniversary Friday, Nov. 18. The event was organized by Library Director Dawn Jenkin, and volunteers from the community joined to help with ticket sales and donations.
On Nov. 8, 1960, the voters of Clark passed a referendum approving a free public library. The first library opened Nov. 1, 1961 in a small store at 17 Lincoln Boulevard. In April 1963, it was moved to a larger store on Raritan Road. In 1966, the library settled at its final location.
The celebration had a ’60s theme, and patrons were encouraged to wear outfits from that era. There was wine, cheese, refreshments and memorabilia to enjoy. The memorabilia included an original Twister game, an 8-track and Polaroid camera.There was also a trivia game that included questions from 1966. The winner of the trivia game would receive three free DVD rentals from the library.
“I thought the trivia was interesting,” Carolynne Baykowski, of Clark, told LocalSource in an interview. “It brought back memories.”
Sixties music was played and a sign with the prices of everything in 1966 versus the prices of the same items today was displayed. Photos of popular television shows from the era were also on display. There was also a “Then and Now” board with photos of the library in 1966. In the photograph from 1966 is Alan Richer returning the first library book to Library Page Nancy Rosenthal. There was also a piece of writing submitted by George Yarusavage titled “Memories of the Library.” He wrote about his mother volunteering at the library and taking him along each week to return his library book and check out new ones. His sister, Ann Yarusavage attended the celebration.
“My mother encouraged us to read,” Ann Yarusavage told LocalSource in an interview. “This library is still nice and quaint to this day. The reference section isn’t used as much and there are more computers now. I still check out library books. The smell of a library book is classic. I love the mutual support between the library and local organizations in the community.”
Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso and Clark police Chief Pedro Matos attended the event to show their support of the public library.
“The library is a cornerstone of every community,” Bonaccorso told LocalSource in an interview. “The Clark Library is excellent and well-run.”
The evening began with a speech by President of Friends of the Library Karen DeMarco and Vice President of Town Council Angel Albanese. They welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. There were about 100 residents who attended. Friends of the Library raised the funds to build the library in 1966. Since then, it’s been refurbished and an addition has been added on.
“I’m a retired teacher who comes to the library at least once a week,” Anne Pamdolfo, of Clark, told LocalSource in an interview. “I love it and I want to see it expand. They have a million wonderful things here for kids, adults and seniors. I hope it keeps growing and people keep coming.”