Library of the Future Celebrates Its 50th Year

February 17, 2018
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Located in Shrewsbury, the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library is open seven days a week most of the year. Photo by Samantha Kuntz

By Muriel J. Smith |

SHREWSBURY – The very active Friends of the Monmouth County Library are busy planning a month-long series of programs and activities in October to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Eastern Branch, what some consider the heart of the community.

“We have always been proud of the Monmouth County Library system,” said Freeholder Lillian Burry, who serves as liaison from the board to the Library Commission, “and Eastern Branch has been a leader throughout its long and impressive history in being a part of the community and sharing not only knowledge and a sense of history but also a haven for all interests. Seeing last year’s solar eclipse and the preparations and education the library offered in advance made that unique experience even more special to the hundreds who attended.”

First opened in 1968, Eastern Branch continues to offer special story times for children, a compilation of socialization, crafts, educational programs and a child’s introduction to the wonders and joys of reading.

Book clubs and book discussion groups continue to be held monthly, now planned and coordinated by librarian Beth Miller. On Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. and Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. discussions will be held on Imbolo Mbue’s book, “Behold the Dreamers.”

Movies have always been a popular offering at the library, said Kim Avagliano, Eastern Branch’s chief librarian. There are eight different films offered each month. The mix always includes new releases, a couple independent titles and at least four classic films to meet everyone’s tastes.

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In celebration of Black History Month, there will be a screening of the 2007 documentary film “No Short Climb: Race Workers and America’s Defense Industry” on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.

“The library continues to offer all the educational lectures, radio plays, theatrical programs, live poetry readings and specialty programs the public requests or seems to enjoy the most,” Avagliano said. On Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., there will a program on learning how to “De-Stress Through Yoga, Breathing and Meditation.”

There is job and career assistance, and classes in writing résumés on a regular basis. The Rutgers New Start Career Network program will be held on Feb. 14 at 10 a.m.

The library’s reference section in Shrewsbury features the largest public library legal collection in the tri-county area. Photo by Samantha Kuntz

The library boasts an outstanding reference section with vast amounts of information on business, law, genealogy, career assistance and technology.

“The wealth of reading, information, entertainment and educational resources the library offers have increased dramatically in the modern age,” Avagliano said. “The variety of things you can access online, which is provided by the library, is astounding and many people are not even fully aware of how much is there for the taking.”

Users can now access so much with a library card through the library website. They can read books and listen to audiobooks with Library on the Go and current popular magazines with Flipster and Zinio; download films with Kanopy; read current and historical newspapers; access academic journals with Ebsco and JStor; learn a new language with Transparent Language or Rosetta Stone; take courses in nearly anything with and Universal Class; and access business information through Hoover’s, Mergent, Morningstar and Reference USA. “You can even practice for your driving test, get information from reference books and find reading resources with Novelist,” said Avagliano.

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The Eastern Branch also shows how integral a part it is of the Shrewsbury community, offering a meeting place for local organizations as well as a location for people in the community who want to share their knowledge and skills with others. Many community organizations see the library at their home meeting space with its offer of both support ad services; in return, many of the library programs are supported or co-hosted by local business and organizations. And the Friends of the Eastern Branch, the volunteers who not only provide numerous services but also raise funds for special projects, are an active part of the entire picture and always encouraging new members.

The library is located at 1001 Route 35. For more information on the library, its hours and programs, visit

This article was first published in the Feb. 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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