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"The Hudson City Branch of the Free Public Library of Jersey City was first opened to the public on December 9, 1911, in rented rooms on the south-west corner of Central Avenue and Lincoln Street. It was an immediate success, and the work increased so rapidly that it was soon found that these rooms were inadequate to give the people of the Hudson City section suitable library facilities."
So begins the commemorative booklet chronicling the "Hudson City Branch" opening at its present location of 14 Zabriskie Street, which occurred on October 1, 1918. According a news report in The Jersey Journal on October 2, 1918, the formal opening was “attended by a large and enthusiastic audience. American flags and those of the Allies [of World War I] decorated the interior of the new edifice…"Mayor Hague made the opening address, declaring that Hudson City '‘deserved the best and finest library in the city.'"
Mayor Frank Hague’s rhetorical flourish, though par for the day, befitted a branch library that Nelson J. H. Edge, then-president of the Library Board, described as "Some of its many attractions are a complete file of all the newspapers which have been published in the city, also all the Directories; a special room for the blind with books printed in raised letters which they can read; a collection of over 5,000 mounted and unmounted engravings, and a Museum full of interesting objects, including a very valuable collection of over 7,000 gold and silver coins and medals, ancient and modern, the gift of the late Dr. John D. McGill."
The commemorative booklet in 1918 described the branch structure’s attributes:
" The new building is a one-story structure of brick trimmed with Indiana lime stone. The building is fifty feet in front and about ninety-five feet deep, setting back from the sidewalk about six feet. A wide flight of stone steps leads to the entrance which opens [sic] into a large vestibule through which the visitor passes into the circulation department. All the rooms used by the public are located on the one floor. On the left of the entrance are located the reading and reference rooms for adults and on the right are the children’s rooms. The books for circulation are shelved on steel racks in the rear of the main room…."
Fast-forward to the 21st century. With the interior rehabilitated and the branch renamed with its current Jersey City-section nickname, The Heights Branch Library re-opened its doors at 14 Zabriskie Street in April of 2001. Indeed, this was ‘a space odyssey’, equipping the refurbished branch with accommodations never imagined in 1918: Public Access computers and an air-conditioned presentation room in its bottom floor.
Since 2001, The Heights Branch Library has hosted new books, videos, recorded books, and a computerized catalog with access to the Internet and full text magazine and newspaper databases. In 2002, when the initial interior design proved cumbersome and unworkable, another revamping ensued. The new décor creates additional sitting area, more visibility, and most of all, is user-friendlier. Patrons and staff alike are pleased with the final results.
The double-door vestibule opens to the Circulation Desk, which is surrounded by an open-air, large bright room that houses Reference, Young Adult’s, Children’s and Pre-school areas. This branch is handicapped accessible, with additional computers on the lower level, where patrons can browse amongst the magazines and popular novels and read in its quiet area, or enjoy a speaker in the presentation room.