Main Library Renovations to Start in Late October 2014

Main Library Renovations to Start in Late October 2014 Ushering in Disabled Accessibility When Completed

With its cornerstone set in 1899, the 115-year-old Main Library in Jersey City will be getting a top-to-bottom overhaul over the next five years, guaranteeing this historic building’s service to the public for the next 100 years.

Residing in the heart of the Van Vorst Historic District, the Main Library, by all accounts, is a community asset that is an architectural masterpiece, designed by architects Brite and Bacon. Its grand opening to the public occurred with pageantry in 1901.

According to the Library’s architect, Helena Ruman, AIA, there will be two phases of construction, owing to ongoing funding procurement. Phase I starts with creating barrier-free access to the Main Library’s building and facilities. The work will start with construction of a new entrance that will allow wheelchair-bound patrons to access the building at grade level. Public and staff restrooms on the first floor will be altered and improved with consideration for a barrier-free access. A new elevator shaft will be constructed from the basement to the fourth floor, in the rear of the building large enough to accommodate individuals with disabilities, and a sprinkler system installed in the basement.

Brand new restrooms will be constructed on the fourth floor, giving the public much-needed relief, and additional compliance by the Jersey City Free Public Library with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Both the Lending and New Jersey Room departments on the second and third floors, respectively, are in need of a major facelift, including power distribution upgrades and installation of energy-efficient lighting, and restoration of the interior finishes.

Before each individual project is tackled, asbestos abatement will occur over the previous weekend, with the Main Library staying closed on that Monday, to ensure safe air quality for the public and staff.

Replacement of the aluminum windows, which were not historically correct and are energy-inefficient, will also commence, with installation of new wooden windows that are historically correct, and energy-efficient.

This first installment of the window replacements is funded by the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, in the amount of $354,000, with matching funds provided by the City of Jersey City.

As can be expected with major construction, there will be a noise factor to contend with, as well as dust, which will be mitigated with the air-tight enclosure of each construction area. The noisiest types of construction will be done on library off-hours; however, there still will be noise as construction continues when the Main Library is open.

With Phase II, the Reference Department on the second floor and remaining public spaces will be renovated, new stacks building constructed, furnishing this repository of archival documents with a museum-quality, climate-controlled stacks that is necessary to store and preserve the New Jersey Room's priceless historic documents and maps.

“We are extremely excited to begin the renovation of this beautiful Main Library, which has been a long time coming,” said Library Director Priscilla Gardner. “While this project is much-needed, it is immense, and we recognize it will not be easy on the public, nor our staff. We ask for your cooperation during the duration of the renovation of the Main Library, and apologize in advance, for any inconvenience.”

For the latest on programs, events, and special announcements please follow the Library on Facebook (, Twitter (JCFPL_NJ) or Pinterest ( at Jersey City Free Public Library. Visit us on the web at for all information on the Library, including all press releases in The Press Room. As of today, October 16, 2014, the Jersey City Free Public Library has 181,933 valid card members. This cumulative number is now much lower than previous counts because these are fully verified as valid Jersey City library card members.

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