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“It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to boys and girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it as the founding of a public library” Andrew Carnegie

Nutley Masons and Township honor Centennial of Nutley Public Library

Upper left: the sign announcing the event on November 23, in front of the original entrance to the Nutley Public Library. At right, top: from left to right are: Essex County freeholder Brendan Gill; Nutley commissioners Steve Rogers and Mauro Tucci; Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a Nutley resident and Senator Ronald Rice. Bottom left, during the indoor portion of the event. Bottom right, a view of the Nutley Masons as they performed their re-enactment of the laying of the cornerstone.
Diane Lilli

The Nutley Public Library hosted a festive and dignified event Saturday, in honor of their 100th birthday. On hand were many government dignitaries, library trustees and staff, residents and the impressive Nutley Masons, who marched from Chestnut Street in a formal procession.

The Nutley Public Library is a Carnegie library, and the cornerstone was laid in 1913. Though the library was not open for business until 1914, this year marks the centennial for this local treasure.

Andrew Carnegie was a lover of books, and a philanthropist. Carnegie, between 1883 and 1929, donated money so that 2,509 Carnegie libraries would be built and open for the public. The Nutley Public Library is one of these esteemed libraries.

On the brisk Saturday morning, the Nutley Masons marched proudly from Chestnut St. to the library, and stood in formation as some of their members performed a very precise, traditional service, re-enacting the very laying of the cornerstone on that day a century ago.

Looking on were many residents, school children, and Nutley Commissioners Mauro Tucci and Steve Rogers; Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen; Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a resident of Nutley; Senator Ronald Rice and Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill. Also there to celebrate and witness the occasion were members of the Nutley Public Library board of trustees.

A formal proclamation was delivered to the library from Tucci, who later said he treasured not only the library where he spent many years as a student but also the "dignified event, which truly is what Nutley is all about". Gill also offered a proclamation from the county board of Freeholders.

Rogers quoted Cicero, who once wrote "“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

With libraries closing across the nation, the plight of free public libraries has become even more important, since The Nutley Public Library as many other libraries, is now much more than just a loaner of books. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation ran the first ever study of who is using libraries today, stating "Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older–roughly 77 million people–used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today." (2009). Now, in 2013, this number has surely grown.

During Hurricane Sandy and for 9 days afterwards, public libraries were packed, with families seeking warmth, a place to charge their batteries, and the company of both books and neighbors.

Today, libraries are a go-to destination, and truly the modern hub of our society, offering book readings; adult and children's activities; computers for anyone needing free internet access, and much more.

Though facing tough budget cuts, in Nutley the board of commissioners has kept up their 1/3 of a mil contributions, and this Nutley Library is fulfilling one of the greatest dreams of our democracy: sharing their lives in a free society, open to words from every type of person, of every race, age, sex and religion.

Congratulations to the Nutley Public Library, and to the local governing body for supporting this vital, free institution. If you would like to support the library, visit them to pick up a Centennial ornament, for $20, or a special pen for just a few dollars.


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