Kids bring spare change to rally for new Watchung library

Kids came by the dozens to City Hall Friday, armed with $1.30 and a mission to get a new public library. (6/27/14)

WATCHUNG - Families in Watchung say it's time the local public library checked out of its old digs and into some new ones.     

Kids came by the dozens to City Hall Friday, armed with $1.30 and a mission to get a new public library.

A new library would add $1.30 per week to the tax bill of the average homeowner.

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But residents say it's not just about a new place to read. "I think it also brings a sense of community to the town," says Diana Churchill, "because people get together, they see each other there."

The current library is in an old house. The aisles are narrow, it has no elevator, and it wasn't built for the heavy weight of all the books.

Librarians say it's a popular place, with 90,000 items checked out last year. But there has been plenty of opposition to replacing it.

"For some people, it probably was the money issue," says Councilman Tom Franklin. "For other people, they seem to like the quaintness of this old building."

Two years ago residents voted down a new library, but on July 17, the issue will come to the Watchung Council again. It will have to decide whether to put the issue to a public vote, or simply approve funding for the library.

If it is approved, a new library would go on the same site as the current one. 

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