By MADDY VITALE
The Ocean City Free Public Library (OCFPL) offers a multitude of traditional books, digital books, CDs, movies and more to a lineup of virtual and in-person seminars and activities that could fill a calendar.
And a much-anticipated renovation project to the more than 30-year-old building is going to be underway in the near future, library officials said.
The building improvements will consist of an expansion of the Young Adults section, new furnishings, brighter lighting and more quiet space for study time as well as “maker space” for do-it-yourself types of projects.
The project has been on hold for a couple of years while the library was seeking state funding to offset the estimated $1.3 million cost.
The city had already bonded for the project, and when library officials learned in the last week that they would not secure state grant money for a second time, they decided it was time to go ahead with the project anyway.
Library Director Karen Mahar and the city and library worked together to send grant proposals to the state. However, the city was not awarded any matching grant money.
“The third round of grant money was announced recently from the state and our library was not on the list,” explained OCFPL Board of Trustees President Jennifer Shirk.
Atlantic City was the only library in the area that was awarded funds, she noted.
But the positive side to it is that instead of waiting, the project will now proceed as originally planned to create a better space for the many visitors who come to the library each day.
“Now we can officially proceed with the second-floor renovations,” Shirk said. “We hope to go out to bid by mid to late summer and possibly start construction this fall.”
The project was discussed at the latest OCFPL Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Jan. 10.
“The board was disappointed that we could not acquire the extra funding from the state,” Shirk said. “But we remain focused on implementing our strategic plan and are excited to move forward with the second-floor renovation and the much-needed updating in lighting, workspace and technology.”
Architect William McLees, of William McLees Architecture in Somers Point, is designing the plan to modernize the facility and make it more user-friendly.
The first grant proposal submitted by the city through the Library Bond Construction Act was not approved back in December of 2020. Another one was submitted by the city in June 2021.
Here is a link to the project’s rendering: https://ocnjdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/library-renovation-rendering-2.pdf
To learn more about the Ocean City Free Public Library, visit www.oceancitylibrary.org