On Valentine's Day, the Pinelands Library celebrated its 45th anniversary, with a rich history that stretches back many decades!
While the Burlington County Library opened in 1921, branch libraries are a more recent development. Library “stations" housed small collections of books and were staffed by volunteers dotted across the county. Organized in 1928 and located in the Medford Village Firehouse, the Medford station was staffed by a single volunteer, Ms. Mary Smith, and was only open on Friday evenings. The station was relocated to the Medford Village Community House in 1946, but eventually closed in 1960. Instead, library service was offered via “booktrucks,” the precursor to the Mobile Library. However, as the local population increased, so did the need for books and reference services.
Fortunately, Medford Township purchased a bus depot on Main Street in 1968 and the following year, the Medford Library Association was formed by private citizens to advocate and organize support for the local library. To properly serve the community the garage required extensive renovations, and local associations like church groups, businesses and citizens rallied together, donating both their time and their money. Two years later, the location was ready to serve and after much discussion about how the library would operate, Mayor Ephraim Tomlinson formally requested it become a branch library. Less than a month later, on Oct. 21, 1971, the County welcomed its third branch into the system.
In honor of serving not only the residents of Medford, but Medford Lakes, Vincentown, Tabernacle, Shamong, and other Pine Barrens communities, the new branch was christened the Pinelands Branch Library and its doors opened to the public on Feb. 14, 1972.
There have been quite a few changes in the last 45 years! The building was expanded in 1985, and the addition became the children’s department and meeting room. With the advent of computers and the Internet, the card catalog made way for catalog terminals and public PCs. But the more things change, the more they remain the same. The Pinelands Branch still offers reference services to people with questions, will gladly help you recall that book title that slipped your mind, set up the meeting room for your group, and offer programs to inform, educate, and delight. And most importantly, 45 years later we’re still here to serve you.