Newark Library Celebrates 125 Years

By Christine Valdez
Web Production Assistant

A drawing of the Newark Public Library. Photo Courtesy of Nadine Sergejeff.

Since 1889 when it first opened its doors, the Newark Public Library has been assisting city residents. This year the library has reached a new milestone.

The Newark Public Library is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the first free public library. From the initial opening of the library at 5 Washington St., it has been a part of the city’s history.

After it had been approved by the citizens of Newark in 1887, the library began to grow in the city. Now that the city’s first library is turning 125, a commemorative exhibit will open to the public — The Newark Public Library: 125 Years of Innovation and Service. A reception for the exhibit will be held Monday.

According to Nadine Sergejeff of the Newark Public Library Reference and Special Collections, the exhibit is set to feature a variety of photographs and drawings. A drawing by John Hall Rankin and Thomas M. Kellogg, the architects of the main library, and a new print of the library by artist Lisa Conrad are set to be featured within the exhibit. Sergejeff says that the library has been committed to the city over the years.

“From its beginnings, the library has been committed to promoting education and culture and has embraced every opportunity to serve Newarkers,” said Sergejeff. “The exhibit, which emphasizes the library’s dedication to innovation and service, illustrates the numerous ways the library has assisted and advanced learning in Newark.”

The library has seen several leaders in its 125 years, including John Cotton Dana in 1902 and Beatrice Winser in 1929.

In 1963, the library became a Federal Regional Depository for the state and became the statewide reference center for several years. Since 1889, the Newark Public Library system has gone to include seven other library branches along with the Washington Street main library with the Branch Brook, Clinton, North End, Springfield, Vailsburg, Van Buren and Weequahic facilities.

The Newark Public Library book truck. Photo Courtesy of Nadine Sergejeff.

As the library turns 125, Sergejeff says that the anniversary is an exciting and momentous celebration and that the library has continued to evolve.

“It enables us to proudly reflect on the library’s many accomplishments since 1889 and how the library will continue to evolve in order to provide outstanding service in the future,” said Sergejeff.

Despite economic downturns, Sergejeff says that the library works to assist its residents and visitors.

“Regardless of the financial obstacles, the library will strive to offer the services that have held true for 125 years,” Sergejeff said.

Along with the exhibition to celebrate the library’s anniversary, a reception will be held Monday, May 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. to commemorate the event. A fundraiser will also be held by the library in the fall as part as the anniversary celebration, according to Sergejeff.