The Library Company of Burlington – Burlington, New Jersey

Image : High Street Farmers’s Market 1910 Credit:

Author: Rekha Vijayalakshmi in conversation with Sharon Vincz, Library Director

Library Company!

The Library Company of Burlington , 23W Union Street, Burlington NJ Photo Credit:

New Jersey often hides her treasures in plain sight, on quiet, unassuming streets and in nondescript towns. When she chooses to reveal them to you, they take your breath away by their elegant simplicity and an air of quietude. The Grounds for Sculpture, The Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, the Elmwood Cemetery in New Brunswick and now, The Library Company of Burlington were all unveiled to me after several years as a Jersey girl.

The Library Company of Burlington, chartered by King George II in 1757, is the oldest continuously functioning library in NJ, and the seventh oldest in the US.  (In the world of libraries, age is flaunted, not disguised 🙂 ).

Old Library company of Burlingtonn

1789 – 1864

It is the first library in NJ to have a building solely to house the collection. The “new” building (above) has been in use since 1864, and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

It is also the first library in the US to have a printed catalog of its books, and one to have a meticulous record of all its transactions. The first circulated book was The Invisible Spy by Thomas  Robinson. The oldest book in the collection dates back to 1521, which is less than 50 years after the printing press was invented.

William Faulkner, the last royal governor of  NJ was a patron and supporter, and so was Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant.

So many firsts, so many years being part of the history of the community and the nation… no way I could miss seeing it!

I opened the front door with hesitation. I knew that it still operated under the 1757 charter of a subscription library and was not sure if it was open to public. But Robin Boyadjian, at the  Information Desk, welcomed me in with a warm smile, and introduced me to Sharon Vincz, the  director of the library, who took me around the library and was very generous with her time. The history of the library seemed to come alive in her enthusiastic and knowledgeable retelling of it.  (Thank you again Sharon! This article would not have been possible without your help.)

The front room of the library  maintains  an old world charm with shelves of dark wood, sepia tinted photographs, comfortable high backed chairs, and arched windows.


One side





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Poway Community Library – San Diego, California

Photo Credit: Beena Devadathan

YoungAuthor_Logo (1)Author: Radhika Sreelal



Poway Community library was established as 2nd branch of San Diego County on May 19, 1913. It is one of my favorite libraries in San Diego.  

PowayChildren's SectionIt is a phenomenal library for many reasons. One big reason is the prodigious variety of books. I got started in the adventure of reading at age 3, due to the marvelous children’s section. I would look at picture books, learning what the words meant as I went along. And the variety of books isn’t just in the children’s section; any subject can be found at Poway Community Library! From science to art, fiction and nonfiction, the types of books are endless. Plus, there are DVDs and audio books to rent. Anyone can easily get lost in all the items there!

Poway Community Library also has enjoyable programs. In summer, the library encourages children to read by giving rewards for a completing a certain number of books. And occasionally, there is Read Aloud Time, where adults will read to young kids, helping to create more excitement for reading. In winter, “Santa” reads aloud to the little ones. Continue reading

Newark Public Library – Newark, New Jersey

Photo Credit:  Jay Nair

Author: Andrew Karlin

The Newark Public Library (NPL)  is a fantastic Beaux-Arts edifice in the downtown Historic District facing Washington Park.  Back in the days before the Internet,  this was where we went to perform school research–once we had exhausted the resources of our local library in Union.

Lobby Photo: Jay Nair

Lobby (Photo: Jay Nair)

Skylight Photo: Anjali Nair

Skylight (Photo: Anjali Nair)










I will always remember the stacks and rows of encyclopedias (encyclopediae?) and the huge public reading rooms, reminiscent of the New York Public Library.  The architecture and murals really made it a shrine to books and learning, where I made many a youthful pilgrimage.

Ceiling Photo: Anjali Nair

Ceiling (Photo: Anjali Nair)

Hallway Photo: Anjali Nair

Hallway (Photo: Anjali Nair)










Today, the library remains a focal point for the community and Essex County, inspiring a new generation of learners with a love of reading and the rewarding connection with the past that accompanies the tactile pleasure of holding a timeworn book.

 Libraries of Our Lives:

NPR3Next time you are in  New Jersey, don’t just drive by Newark  to the airport or New York or  to Boston. Stop by and see NPL.  Trust us, it will be worth your while. If you go before  August 30 2014, you  can see also view the exhibition celebrating 125 years of NPL.

Jersey boys and girls: Have you visited this gem of a library lately?

Pennington Public Library – Pennington , New Jersey

Pennington Public Library

Photo Credit: Unknown

Author: Chloe Stricklin

After spending the past year volunteering at the Pennington Public Library in Pennington, New Jersey, I can honestly say that it is the best library to which I have ever been. While only a fraction of the size of the Princeton Library, the Pennington Library has a plethora of fiction, nonfiction, magazines, audio books, DVDs, and children’s books. We also have a fantastic inter-library loan system; if someone wants a book that we don’t have, it’s extremely easy to acquire it from another library in our network.

The “Free Paperback” rack is perhaps my favorite part of the Pennington Library. It’s not only fun to browse, but I’ve actually found numerous books that I had previously planned to buy. The rack is stocked entirely by donations, so it’s also a great place to give books that you no longer want.  Continue reading

Rundel Memorial Library- Rochester, New York

Photo Credit: Michael Sauers via Flickr under Creative Commons 

Author: Mauro Felipe (Moe)

I’m from Rochester, NY which is a little over an hour Northeast of Buffalo on Lake Ontario, as opposed to Buffalo being on Lake Erie. Rochester has always been a fairly progressive and liberal city with deep pockets when it comes to the arts and public services so I don’t think that our amazing Rundel Memorial Library is in any danger, but you never know.

 The library is a beautiful building inside and out, constructed on the Genesee River, which runs right through downtown Rochester. I’m a library fan and loved to be dropped off at Rundel for hours. That was pretty much the perfect afternoon for me when I was younger. Throughout my life I’ve always made local libraries a destination whenever I spent time in a city, and I have yet to find anything which I felt surpassed Rundel, and that includes each and every library in NYC that I visited during my 13 years of living there.


1024px-Rochester_-_Rundel_Memorial_Library_reverse Mathew D. Wilson CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo Credits: Rear of Rundel Library Mathew D. Wilson, CC BY-SA 3.0, Inside  and plaque Michael Sauers via Flickr under Creative Commons 

Silverman Library, SUNY University at Buffalo – Buffalo, New York

Photo Credit: Breadchastik under a Creative Commons Attribution license 3.0

Meeting Spaces  Author:  Divya Khanna

University libraries serve an extended role compared  to what they play in communities. These are the primary meeting spaces, where people from all walks of university life come together to exchange ideas, encourage dialogue, and above all – socialize.

Capen Hall

Capen Hall, Silverman Library

This was essentially the role of  the Silverman Library – ‘Capen Library’ in the State University of New York University at Buffalo. It was a common ground for students to meet and plan their alcohol-infused weekends; predict test questions over a chain-smoking session; and above all, scout for new talent that is going to be a hit  in downtown Buffalo.
Ah, yes, it was only after this the true purpose of the library was met. Once the sun had set and the clock struck midnight, the social circles dispersed and all students sat down at their desks and began cranking out the tunes to assist them in memorizing as much text as they possibly could, wishing they had paid just a tad more attention in class.  Continue reading

Rosenfeld Management Library, UCLA Anderson – Los Angeles, California

Photo Credit: Corey Seeman

Author: Lata Hariharan

Ah – the Rosenfeld Library!  A place of retreat during my MBA studies (2007-2009). The library was beautifully designed and well-stocked. It had several sound-proof conference rooms with clear glass enclosures for team discussions, which we used extensively. You could also find me many a time immersed in quiet study here.

Even though this was a physical library,  all the management periodicals and databases were available online which was great for students like me that commuted from far. I remember the librarian Rita Costello sitting patiently with our small group during our last semester, explaining how to do high-quality research for our business plan thesis.

This place (virtual and physical) sparked my deep professional interest in research and analysis.

Aliso Viejo Library – Aliso Viejo, California

Photo Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons 

Author: Lata Hariharan

This library has been my stomping grounds especially during my kids’ childhood. Nestled in the suburban town of Aliso Viejo in Orange County, California, the library is perfect-sized and not too upscale.
The kids’ library was truly a place to be. I remember going there for the first time in 2000. I would take my 3 year old daughter while my son was in school, sit on the ground near each shelf and pull out multiple books for her to look at. She would choose a book finally and we would then sit at the nearby low table and chair and read the book together. We also took home many books-on-tape and she thoroughly enjoyed each one. She still goes there to study many times.
My son has done many a project here and relished multiple novels. And I have escaped into the world of history, romance, comedy and mystery with the help of this library. My parents have also used this library extensively.
The neighborhood cafe attached to the library has been a favorite haunt as well though it has changed ownership a few times.
One of my fond memories is also coming a few times on Friday evenings and learning to dance in the room attached to the library where free group dance was being conducted.

This will definitely be a nostalgic place for me.

Mercer County Library System – New Jersey

Photo Credit: Anjali Nair

Authors: Kamala Sundar  and Rekha Vijayalakshmi 

Mercer County library system has 9 branches, and allows users to freely access all of them. The authors write about a few of these.  We welcome more users to join them.

Author: Kamala Sundar


West Windsor Branch of MCL Photo Credit: Librarything

I am a senior citizen. For the last 10 years, I have been a frequent visitor to the West Windsor branch. I have spent many comfortable hours reading several magazines and newspapers. Of  Indian origin, I am thrilled to be able to read “India Today” or one of the several Indian newspapers. Just holding the physical copies and reading the articles relaxes me. I love the book sales in the library, you never know what gems you could pick up by browsing the various tables!

My late husband practically lived in that library and knew the entire staff so well that they became family to him and of course to myself. I have never met a staff so friendly, so kind, and so willing to help. After he passed, every one at the circulation desk was so solicitous of me  and my daughter. My daughter borrows books on my behalf – those that she thinks I will be interested in reading, specially books by Indian authors, fiction or non-fiction. It was a true pleasure reading “Malgudi Days” by R.K. Narayan. I was amazed to find it at the WW Library – it was published so long ago! Continue reading

Chester County Library and District Center – Exton, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Sunil Konduru

Author: Rekha Vijayalakshmi

The Exton Branch of the Chester County Library System was my first introduction to the county library system in the US, and I must say I was bowled over. I was overjoyed when they told me that I could take all the books I wanted if I showed proof of residence.

Those were our first days in a new country, so we took a lot of movies, documentaries and travel guides, in addition to fiction. Watching the story of Harriet Tubman and the Under Ground Railroad, an offbeat movie called Second Hand Lions and To Kill a Mocking Bird in all its B &W glory, started a Friday night family movie tradition in our home that lasted well into our daughter’s teen years. (After that she could watch R rated movies, while I was stuck with PG13.)  Continue reading