Support the library budget (Letter to the Editor)
We thank the Mayor and Council for making funds available to the Montclair Public Library last year which enabled the main library to open 59 hours a week, seven days a week, including evenings and weekends, and the Bellevue Avenue branch library to open 40 hours a week, six days a week.
With these restored hours, the library welcomed more than 114,000 visitors in 2022, a 54% increase from 2021. There is a clear need for library resources. These changes started in June 2022, so approving the budget requested for 2023 would ensure that the library can continue the current hours and level of service to the public for all of 2023.
We want to highlight the enormous value the Montclair Public Library brings to the community. More than 75% of Montclair residents have a library card, and the library serves as a community center and resource for reliable information, collective exploration and quiet refuge. In offering free access to technology and a variety of job-readiness and literacy programs, the library acts as an important economic equalizer in Montclair.
We note that the proposed 2023 budget includes the same level of discretionary funds ($515,000) as was appropriated in 2022 despite substantial increases in costs due to inflation and health care. We know that the library director and trustees made their request very thoughtfully, with consideration for the financial constraints Montclair Township faces. We continue to support the library’s programming with funding and advocacy, as we believe in the necessity of a vibrant library for a thriving community. Please join us in supporting this vital institution.
We the undersigned urge the Mayor and Council to fund the 2023 Montclair Public Library budget as submitted.
Gina Chung Fortt, chair, Montclair Public Library Foundation; Edward Robin, Montclair Library Friends Steering Committee; Ilmar Vanderer, Friends of the Bellevue Avenue Library