The New Jersey Business & Industry Association today urged voters to approve Public Question No. 1 on the ballot Tuesday, November 7—the proposed act that will allow the state to sell $125 million in State general obligation bonds.
The goals of the bond act are to upgrade public library facilities to meet community needs and to strengthen New Jersey’s economy by creating job opportunities.
“New Jersey’s public libraries provide a wide array of programs and services of which there is great demand, including job research,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “These bonds will allow for repairs, increased capacity and technology upgrades for libraries in need, while also creating construction jobs.”
The proceeds from the bonds will be used to provide grants to construct, expand and equip public libraries. Municipalities or counties that fund public libraries will be required to match the grant amount. They could do so by soliciting private funding to support its match.
Under law, the New Jersey State Librarian and the President of Thomas Edison State University would develop a process for applying and distributing construction funds.
A survey conducted by the New Jersey Library Association found that 80 percent of in-state libraries are already planning for expansion, renovation or facility improvements. Nearly 48 percent of New Jersey libraries are in need of additional square footage, while more than 41 percent are not fully ADA compliant.
“It’s also worth noting that recent survey data finds that more than 53 percent of millennials said they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months,” Siekerka said. “That’s a higher response than any survey of Gen Xers or Baby Boomers.
“These higher use numbers can be attributed to use of computers and internet connections, and in some cases, 3-D printers. Libraries serve important functions for our millennials, many relating to job searching and researching. It’s important that these important facilities advance with changing times.”
Legislation for the bond act question was passed with bi-partisan support in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Christie in July.
The last Public Library Construction Bond Act was passed 18 years ago, resulting in 68 communities constructing or renovating library facilities. Library services were transformed in many communities with the addition of new computer facilities, upgraded teen centers or community meeting rooms.
For a copy of Public Question No. 1, please click here.