Meeting rooms are part of new libraries' design


Tuesday, July 27, 2004 BERNIE MIXON Courier-Post Staff CAMDEN

Goal is for neighbors to want to convene

Two new libraries planned for Camden by Garrison Architects will be like other libraries, complete with reference materials and reading rooms.

But more than just a keeper of information, the libraries will play the role of convener as they take on the role as meeting place for residents in Centerville and Cramer Hill.
The libraries - each with a meeting room that accommodates about 150 people - represent a growing trend as more libraries become neighborhood centers.
"The library has become a community center and in some ways a cultural center," said Carol Brey-Casiano, president of the American Library Association. "This is something we are seeing happening across the country. It is somewhat of a return of the role in the last century."

More activities are now centered in buildings once associated with stern-looking librarians who made silence a way of life. Some libraries have built fireplaces and comfortable reading rooms into their layout, Brey-Casiano said.

Camden County Freeholder Riletta Cream, liaison to the Camden County Library System, has worked for years to bring state-of-the-art libraries to Camden. "A library is very important, especially with trying to encourage our young people to read more," said Cream, a former educator. "If they don't know anything about the Internet, if they don't know anything about computers, they can avail themselves of that opportunity."
The libraries, each about 15,000 square feet, will be located at 29th Street and River Road in Cramer Hill and at Ninth Street and Ferry Avenue in Centerville.

The freeholders have earmarked $6 million in capital improvement funds to pay for them.

In addition to offering reading materials, the libraries will provide a connection to the Internet by way of the New Jersey State Library's Hub telecommunications network.

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