About Us

Mission Statement

The Metuchen Public Library seeks to inform, enrich, and empower the public; supports intellectual freedom; encourages lifelong learning; and strengthens community engagement in a welcoming environment.

We strive to provide: 

  • Free and equal access to information for all ages and abilities in the community
  • Advocacy for the rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment
  • A well-balanced collection and resources that meet the interests and needs of the community
  • A variety of educational, recreational, cultural, and informational activities and programs
  • A place where people can connect, socialize and share their expertise
  • A space for innovation, imagination and creativity
  • A staff that is committed to excellence in customer service

Reviewed and Revised 4/14/2015
2nd Reading and Adopted 5/12/2015

Monday-Thursday: 10am-9pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 1pm-5pm (Closed Sundays from mid-June through Labor Day weekend)


2024 HOLIDAY AND CLOSING SCHEDULE

The library will be closed on the following dates:

New Year’s Day – Sunday, January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Monday, January 15
Presidents’ Day – Monday, February 19
Easter – Sunday, March 31
Memorial Day Weekend – Saturday, May 25 – Monday, May 27
Juneteenth – Friday, June 21
Independence Day – Thursday, July 4
Labor Day Weekend – Saturday, August 31 – Monday, September 2
Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day – Monday, October 14
Veterans Day – Monday, November 11
Thanksgiving Eve – Wednesday, November 27, Closing at 5 PM
Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 28
Day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 29
Staff Development Day – Friday, December 6
Christmas Eve – Tuesday, December 24
Christmas Day – Wednesday, December 25
Christmas Eve – Tuesday, December 31
New Year’s Day (2025) – Wednesday, January 1, 2025

* The Library will begin the Summer 2024 hours with closing on Sundays from June 16 through September 1 and reopen Sundays from 1-5 pm starting September 8, 2023.

This is a true copy approved by the Metuchen Library Board of Trustees on November 14, 2023.

732-632-8526
metuchenpubliclibrary@metuchenlibrary.org
480 Middlesex Avenue, Metuchen NJ 08840


The Library Board of Trustees is operated under the authority established in NJSA 40:54-1.  The Board consists of nine (9) members and appointments are made by nomination of the Mayor with Council confirmation.  Board of Trustees meetings are held in the upstairs meeting room at the Metuchen Public Library every SECOND TUESDAY of each month at 7:00PM, except during the month of August. Meetings are open to the public.


The 2024 Board meeting dates are listed below:

January 9
February 13
March 12
April 9
May 14
June 11
July 16 (3rd Tuesday)
September 10
October 8
November 12
December 10
January 14, 2025


Board of Trustees 2024

  • Samina Ali – President (Serving thru 12/2025)
  • Spencer Dreher – Vice President (Serving thru 12/2024)
  • Brian Hajjar – Treasurer (Serving thru 12/2024)
  • Rachel Algier – Secretary (Serving thru 12/2028)
  • Karen Alexander (Serving thru 12/2027)
  • Karen Chaplin (Serving thru 12/2026)
  • Sue Cea (Serving thru 12/2027)
  • Vinita Jethwani – Council Liaison
  • Charmane Montgomery – Superintendent’s Representative

Meeting Minutes

Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

LIBRARY DIRECTOR

The Board of Trustees seeks an experienced and dynamic leader to serve as its next Library  Director.

Metuchen Public Library is at the heart of our 15,000-person community and enjoys Borough wide community engagement. The library offers diverse and inclusive programs, services, an  experienced staff, and provides a welcoming public space where community groups meet, local  artists perform and display their work, and access is available to all. Metuchen, the 2.5 square mile “Brainy Borough,” is known for its rich history, cultural arts and thriving downtown,  recently receiving the 2023 Great American Main Street Award. Residents also enjoy easy  access to New York City and The Middlesex Greenway. Nearby, in New Brunswick, Rutgers  University offers higher educational and cultural opportunities.

Responsibilities: The Director will work with 5 full-time and 11 part-time employees, and a $1  million budget to ensure full access to all library resources. The Director is responsible for  administration of the staff, facility, finances, planning, policies, programming, fundraising, and  all public relations for the library, as well as fostering relationships with community partners,  Borough government and all stakeholders. Key initiatives include library upgrades and capital  improvements for the facility which requires a leader able to guide various professionals and  staff toward successful outcomes.

Qualifications: A minimum of three years of relevant, successful leadership experience, and an  ALA-accredited Masters Degree in Library and Information Science is required. A new Director,  currently living outside of NJ will have 1 year to move to NJ. The ideal candidate will possess  excellent interpersonal and communication skills, a proven track record of project  management, a collaborative outlook, and the ability to effectively lead and develop library  staff, knowledge of best practices and trends in library technologies, and experience with  community engagement and partnership development. The Director must also embrace and  promote diversity and inclusivity among staff and patrons.

Compensation and Benefits: The salary is $85,000 to $93,000 (commensurate with  qualifications and experience) for this full-time position with an excellent benefit package.

For consideration in confidence, please email your PDF cover letter, resume and three references to librarydirectorsearch@gmail.com. Questions and inquiries may be addressed to Alan or Leslie Burger of Library Development Solutions, alanburger@librarydevelopment.com.

The Metuchen Public Library is an Equal Opportunity Employer, located at 480 Middlesex Ave,  Metuchen, NJ 08840. Review of applications and interviews will begin immediately until the  position is filled. Only candidates selected for interviews will be notified. Employment is  contingent upon a successful background and reference check.

A 2013 photograph of the Metuchen Library
A 2013 photograph of the Metuchen Library

The Metuchen Public Library

The history below was written by retired Library Director Grace Halsey in 1970. Additional text and images were added in 2015 by Tyreen Reuter on behalf of the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society.


The First Presbyterian Church and annex in 1910.
The First Presbyterian Church and annex in 1910.

The Free Public Library of Metuchen has not always been a “free” library.

It has its beginning in 1870 when “The Order of the Sons of Temperance” collected a few books and opened a reading-room in the annex of the First Presbyterian Church (later torn down). The purpose of this was “to promote mental culture and good morals.”

By 1879 culture had progressed to the formation of the “Metuchen Book Club.” Members paid 25¢ every two weeks for the privilege of borrowing from the collection of 620 volumes donated by the townspeople.

This was followed in 1884 by the formation of the “Metuchen Library Association,” to which members paid an initiation fee of $ 2.00 and $2.00 annually.  The Association had a room in the Old Franklin Schoolhouse building to house its books.

The Old Franklin Schoolhouse, ca. 1880-1900
The Old Franklin Schoolhouse, ca. 1880-1900

In 1889, a tiny building was erected on Hillside Avenue near Main Street.  The one room measured about 11 by 19 feet and had two chairs, a table, a librarian’s desk, and a captain’s chair.  There was also a small stove and, necessarily, shelves.

The library was open one-half day a week and was presided over by Miss Ruth Thomas.  In 1901 the library was made free to residents and by 1919 the hours were increased under the guidance of the second librarian, Miss Julia Bogert, and the circulation reached 1830.

As Metuchen grew, so grew the library and the tiny building became inadequate.  The first move was to three small rooms over the National Bank Building and the circulation soared to 7,304.  Outgrowing these quarters, a move was made to the entire second floor of the Commonwealth Bank Building, just across Main Street.  The annual circulation there reached 14,120.

The first library building, located on Hillside Avenue.
The first library building, located on Hillside Avenue.

In 1924 the Borough Hall was built and the library was again moved to the second floor in that building at the crossroads of Main Street and Middlesex Avenue.  Hours were increased to three afternoons and two evenings a week and circulation increased to 18,076.

In 1928 the library was made a municipal one and has since January l, 1929, been supported by the Borough.

At the time of his death Dr. Theodore Hunt, a former resident of the Borough and later a professor at Princeton University, left a sum of money to go towards the building of a library and later another old resident, Miss Elzira Whittier, also left a bequest for the same purpose.  In 1936 with this money, plus a W.P.A. grant, our lovely Colonial style building was built at 480 Middlesex Avenue.  The cost was about $75,000.


The National Bank building on Main Street is indicated by the arrow on the right.
The National Bank building on Main Street is indicated by the arrow on the right. The Commonwealth Bank Building is across the street, as indicated by the arrow on the left.
The ca. 1890 handdrawn Eggert Map of Metuchen.
The ca. 1890 handdrawn Eggert Map of Metuchen. The location of the building above is circled.
The original Metuchen Borough Hall, within a few years of its construction in 1924.
The original Metuchen Borough Hall, within a few years of its construction in 1924.

Laying of the cornerstone for the new Public Library in Metuchen was marked with appropriate ceremonies on May 3
Laying of the cornerstone for the new Public Library in Metuchen was marked with appropriate ceremonies on May 3. The Library, which was begun on December 19, 1935, is a WPA project sponsored by the Borough Council and is being built by funds provided jointly by the Works Progress Administration, the Metuchen Library Association and the estate of the late Professor Theodore Hunt of Princeton. The Federal contribution total[s] $68,444.00. The sponsors contribute $18,000.00.

The building is a one-story brick structure in Colonial style, the design in keeping with the historic character of the section, yet having the latest equipment and facilities requisite for the modern Library. It has a basement which contains a meeting room, magazine storage room, historical data space and heating equipment. The first floor includes a general reading and reference room, a work room and children’s department. The population of Metuchen in 1930 was 5,748.
-“The Dawn,” June 1936.

 

The new library was opened January 2, 1937, and the circulation this year reached 28,752.

With a separate children’s room at the rear of the main floor, plus a meeting room, stack room, work room, magazine file room and storage space in the basement, it seemed that the building was more than adequate.  Hours were increased to six afternoons and four evenings and later two mornings were added.

In 1946 Miss Bogert retired and Miss Grace Halsey, who had been connected with the library since 1920 and assistant librarian for some years, was appointed librarian.

Year by year Metuchen’s population grew beyond all expectation and the library became more and more crowded, as both readers and book-stock increased, and by 1959 it was necessary to move the children’s room downstairs, freeing the rear main floor room for a young adult collection, reference books and part of the non-fiction.  It was this year that the record collection was begun with about 90 recordings.

In 1962 the circulation topped the 100,000 mark for the first time.  As the circulation increased, so increased the problem of setting books back after a reasonable length of time, so in 1964 an ordinance was passed by the Borough Council making it a punishable offense to hold for more than a proscribed time.  After three overdue notices were sent and a telephone call made, if possible, a registered return receipt letter was sent to the delinquent borrower, who was given 30 days grace, after which time a warrant could be filed for arrest.  No arrests have been made to date but the threat of such action has proved most effective.

Late in 1964 plans were started for a federation between the Free Public Library of Metuchen and the Highland Park Free Public Library.  In 1965 such plans had advanced to the point of having the two Borough Attorneys draw up the contract, but the resignation of the Highland Park librarian of necessity postponed the plans.  However in August of 1966 the contract was finally signed.  This move made the facilities of each library available to the residents of both communities and resulted in a sizeable increase in state aid to both institutions.

In February of 1967 the library obtained the services of its first degreed children’s librarian and activities for the younger children were increased.  A series of classes for preschool children was inaugurated; two groups a week for six weeks in the fall and spring were held plus regular film programs for older children on alternate Saturdays.

This year (1967) the circulation was 104,429, the record collection had grown to almost 500 items and the book stock to over 26,000 volumes and our lovely building which had seemed so spacious in 1937 was bursting at the seams.  An addition was considered necessary, as soon as possible.

Architect’s sketch of the library, as it appeared in the cornerstone laying ceremony booklet. The architect, Aylin Pierson, also designed Roosevelt Hospital and nearly 70 schools and other public buildings in New Jersey.In 1968 plans were drawn up by Mr. Charles Fitch, a local architect, and they were approved by the State Committee on building requirements, but Metuchen was tenth on the list for State Aid for new buildings and the City Fathers did not see how they could swing the necessary $350,000, which sum was increasing each week as building cost rose, so the plans had to be set aside for another year.

Woodbridge Library had by this time been designated as an “area library” and thus various kinds of assistance became available to the Metuchen Library.  Inter-library loans were transferred from the State Library in Trenton, where for years excellent service was given by mail, to Woodbridge, where books could be requested by telephone and delivered or called for several times a week by car.  A film library was available; photo-copies of magazine articles for a small fee, poster printing, a book selection center and many other splendid aids were ours for the asking.

Watercolor of the library, created by artist Edward Wetzel.
Watercolor of the library, created by artist Edward Wetzel.

Early in 1968 Miss Halsey tendered her resignation, to take effect January 1, 1969 or as soon thereafter as a replacement could be found, so on September 1, 1969, Mrs. William (Leola) Symonds became the fourth director of the reading public of Metuchen in a period of 70 years.

–Grace Halsey, February 1970.


Sketch from the October 29, 1972 dedication booklet for the addition.
Sketch from the October 29, 1972 dedication booklet for the addition.

After this history was compiled by Miss Halsey, the hoped-for addition by architect Charles Fitch was indeed built.  Author and Poet Laureate John Ciardi served as Vice President of the Board of Trustees during its construction. 

Since that time, the Metuchen Library has continued to expand its services to the community and keep up with the changes in technology and needs.  This work has been guided by the Trustees of the Library with great support from the Friends of the Library.  In 2013 the Childrens Room was renovated, and the Library Gallery opened in the newly refurbished Community Room in 2014.  That same year the library became more accessible with the addition of automatic doors as well as an ADA compliant service desk and bookshelves.  In 2015, the Library converted a storage room into a makerspace with modern technology such as robotics and 3D printing to inspire innovation and creativity. 

Currently more than half of the population of Metuchen are library card holders (7297 out of the overall population of 13,756) and the library greets over 130,000 visitors yearly who come to the library for books, movies, use of various equipment, and to participate in an array of free activities.

A 2014 detailed photograph of the pediment above the main door of the original building.
A 2014 detailed photograph of the pediment above the main door of the original building.