COURT HOUSE - Cape May County Library System celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 18, at the pocket park adjacent to the Court House library.
The pocket park was decorated whimsically for the celebration, with little paper lanterns adorning trees, streamers wrapped around railings and bushes, chalk art on the sidewalks and side of the building, and other shiny ornaments throughout.
The celebration began with a ceremony, where several speakers shared their connection to the library, as well as a piece of history about it.
Andrea Orsini, library director, began by welcoming everyone.
“This library has been the heart of our library system for the past 50 years,” she said, “and I am confident that it will remain the heart of the library system for the next 50 years.”
She noted that a lot of the library systems have changed since their origins in 1971, but the mission remains the same.
“We’re here to educate and inform, and to provide equal access to everyone,” she said. “I am proud of my library staff and their dedication that’s really been shown over this past year and a half. We’ve seen how resilient everyone has been - working together to get through and do things in a different way, a new way, and still serve our community, and I’m so very proud to have led them and still lead them, and the library shows how resilient we are, and it also shows how resilient Cape May County is. I am honored to serve the residents of Cape May County.”
“I’m absolutely amazed at each one of our libraries,” said County Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson, adding they will be implementing a blend between the Cape May library and Cape May City to make a building into a historical structure that includes a library and other venues.
“The system is more than just books... it’s hard to understand how many people have come up to me and said, ‘Why do we need a public library? You can get the information online.’ Well, I’ll tell you what, pal. There’s nothing like picking up a book, sitting down and reading, and leafing through the pages. That’s personal.”
Pierson also said the library did away with late fees, which makes it a free library. He also mentioned another unique amenity about the library, which is a 3D printer within the library’s technology learning center that generated face shield holders in 2020 for Covid precautions.
“I congratulate the library system. I congratulate all the employees for their dedication and hard work,” Pierson said. “I know that the next 50 years are just going to be so great.”
County Clerk Rita Rothberg recognized the people who worked hard to make an impact and made the anniversary possible and provided some historical context regarding the library and county origins.
“From our earliest days, books were so important to the citizens of Cape May County,” Rothberg said. “Books enrich our lives.”
Rothberg mentioned Cape May County Freeholder Joseph Rixey, who was responsible for the library’s fruition during his time as a freeholder, from 1963 to 1971.
“My father would be very proud of today,” said Richard Rixey, Joseph Rixey’s son.
Retired Cape May County librarian Ed Carson provided a synopsis fora library’s discovery in Syria that gave people insight into the Bronze Age, the Alexandria Library, and even Julius Caesar’s library dream.
“This building is glorified in my mind for its existence for the role it plays in this community,” Carson said. “It has made men’s talents accessible to all.”
Carson continued that although the world has progressed technologically since libraries have come to be, the role of a librarian hasn’t changed, which is to provide accurate information.
“This building and its contents and its staff are a symbol to me of hard-working staff, the community and patrons that it serviced, and a society that believes in making the talents of man public to all,” he said.
After the speakers finished their stories of appreciation, the time capsule was unveiled.
The capsule’s contents were meant to represent the current year to “provide a snapshot of Cape May County Library happenings, as of 2021,” according to the celebration’s pamphlet.
Some of the time capsule’s contents include information about this year’s summer reading program, a face mask representing the ongoing Covid pandemic, a list of popular items checked out from the library, and a flash drive with current photos of the library, as well as at the point of construction.
The time capsule,buried at the library’s entrance, at the base of the public library sign,is to be dug up in 50 years.
Orsini placed the capsule in the hole, and each speaker followed by taking turns covering it with dirt from the grounds.
After the ceremony, the speakers posed with the library’s mascot, Clickety the dolphin, who guests also got to meet.
There were several activities after the ceremony that guests could enjoy, including a chalk obstacle course.
Guests could also write a love letter to the library and stroll through the decorated pocket park, which also included displays of historical happenings from the area that guests could learn about on said stroll, and enjoy light refreshments provided by the library.
The library operates eight other branch libraries and a bookmobile service that stops throughout the county. The library also offers internet access and Wi-Fi service at all branch locations, according to its Facebook page.
To contact Rebecca Fox, email email@example.com.