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Budget Committee Passes Bill to Bolster Library Construction and Improvement

TRENTON – Recognizing the vital role that public libraries continue to play in New Jersey communities and their importance as centers of learning and enrichment, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee passed legislation that appropriates $37.2 million from the “New Jersey Library Construction Fund” to provide grants for construction, reconstruction, development, extension, improvement, and furnishing of New Jersey’s public libraries.

The bill, introduced by Senator James Beach, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Vin Gopal, will also include monies for small project grants for barrier-free improvements and repairs of New Jersey public libraries.

“Few institutions in the public sphere are as widely respected or universally praised as libraries. That’s because they provide so many services for anyone wishing to improve their mind, or better their understanding of the world,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden/Burlington). “These new funds will help libraries keep up their important mission, to educate and serve, and to allow patrons of any age or background to travel as far as their imagination will take them.”

The appropriations included in the legislation are funds from a bond act that New Jersey voters approved in 2017 which authorized $125 million to finance capital projects at libraries throughout the State.

“Public libraries are mainstays of our democracy,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer / Middlesex). “We can’t afford to allow them to fall into physical disrepair or technological dysfunction, especially during these uncertain times when so many residents are in need of the critical services and programs they provide.”

In 2020, the Legislature appropriated $87.5 million of the bond act money. The new $37.2 million layout in this bill represents the second round of appropriation.

“Public libraries are among our most valued public spaces. This bill will make sure libraries can continue to make a difference in people’s lives – whether in the books, music or audio visual materials they offer, or in the programs and services they provide, whether to residents seeking employment information, or self-improvement guides or merely making available a quiet place to sit and read.” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).

The legislation, S-4221, was passed out of committee by a vote of 12-0.