The Old Bridge Public Library is a true asset to residents. Consistently recognized as the “Best” or “One of the Best” Public Libraries in Middlesex County by readers of the Home News Tribune, the library has evolved into a valuable community center, with over 300,000 visitors per year.
In addition to providing traditional resources like books and research materials, the library is an innovative center for learning, recreation and information 24/7. Along with over 200,000 books, DVDs, CDs and pre-loaded learning tablets, the library also offers a wide array of digital resources, including access to educational sites such as Tutor.com, Ancestry.com and Lynda.com, as well as entertainment sites such as Qello.com (concerts), Kanopy (independent films and documentaries) and Hoopla (movies, TV, books).
Cardholders also have access to download ebooks, audio books and magazines remotely to their digital devices. For those needing remote Wi-Fi service, for home or while traveling, the library also offers a limited number of mobile hot-spots that can be borrowed.
Need a passport? The library is an official, U.S. State Department-designated passport acceptance facility, and offers passport photo service. The department is open seven days a week, and appointments are not necessary; customers are taken on a first-come basis. Expedited service is also available for an additional fee.
Makerspaces have become popular due to DIY culture, and the Old Bridge Library was the site of one of the first makerspaces created in a New Jersey library. The library’s “Idea Farm” includes a Makerbot 3D printer, a vinyl cutter/decal maker, soldering irons, Makey Makey kits, Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi computers. Users make, learn and share through these tools and formal classes. The Idea Farm also offers “lower tech” hands-on sewing and gardening classes, thereby providing valuable experience in the fields of science, technology, math and basic life skills.
Thousands of residents enjoy the many free cultural events offered at the library, including the Second Saturday Concert Series featuring professional local musicians playing a wide variety of music. Unique theatrical performances, concerts and special events are hosted throughout the year, and movie and concert screenings are offered weekly on a large state-of-the art system. In addition to regular book clubs, lectures, and cooking and technology classes, the Library hosts popular events including a Winter Carnival, Comic Con, NJ Makers Day and Teen Lock-in days. The Museum Pass program offers free or reduced admission to 10 museums in the tri-state area. Passes can be reserved and in some cases, printed out, on-line.
Job seekers and small business owners can rely on the library for numerous resources and programs. The online Career Center offers excellent resources such as Job and Career Accelerator and Ferguson’s Career Guidance. It also provides links to job postings and tips on resume writing and interviewing skills. Along with special career lectures and programs, the Library also hosts volunteer organizations such as SCORE, which mentors small business owners and those looking to start a business.
For those who cannot make it into the library, there are outreach services to the community, bringing resources outside of the building. An outreach van makes stops at area preschools and senior centers, dropping off a regular supply of new books to be enjoyed, as well as to local laundromats and barbershops. It also maintains several Little Free Libraries around town, stocking them with free books for residents to take and share. A special Books By Mail program allows homebound residents to enjoy the convenience of having books mailed directly to them free-of-charge.
Along with online language learning sites such Rosetta Stone, Pronunciator and Muzzy, the library also offers two or three English as a Second Language sessions each year. These classes are taught by dedicated volunteers and provide students with a nurturing, supporting environment to practice their speaking and reading skills.
In addition to the Central Branch within the Municipal Complex, the township also operates a satellite branch in Laurence Harbor at 277 Shoreland Circle. The Central Branch is open seven days a week, and the Harbor Branch is open Monday-Saturdays. For complete information about library programs and resources, visit www.oldbridgelibrary.org. Follow it on social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.