Camden County Library System outpost to open in Paul Robeson Library
In an innovative move that could serve as a model for urban areas nationwide, Camden County Library
Commission and Rutgers–Camden have come together to create an outpost branch of the County library
in downtown Camden. The 5,000-square-foot space on the lower level of the Paul Robeson Library at
Rutgers–Camden is being renovated for maximum efficiency and access.
The renovated area also will include space for the Rutgers Future Scholars Program and the Rutgers
College Access Center. The co-location of these programs with the county library seeks to provide
Camden families with opportunities to utilize Rutgers college prep programs.
"This branch will mean so much to city residents," said Mayor Dana L. Redd. "We are so happy that
through our efforts, the facilitation efforts of the County, the expertise of the Library System and
the commitment of Rutgers University we will have such a resource available for use downtown."
The city of Camden is the latest municipality to join the County Library System, which now includes
27 of 37 municipalities in the county. Each municipality pays for its membership through a dedicated
tax from its residents. The tax rate is the same for every municipality.
"Libraries hold a special role at the heart of their communities, whether on a university campus or
in our hometowns. They are places for learning, centers for research, and focal points for community
growth," said Wendell Pritchett, Chancellor of the Rutgers-Camden Campus. "Here at Rutgers the Paul
Robeson Library serves in all of these capacities, and is a critical part of our campus life. As
befits the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers is proud to partner with the Camden County
Library Commission to put underutilized space in our Robeson Library to work on behalf of the
citizens of Camden."
Linda Devlin, Director of the Camden County Library System, who helped create the vision for this
unique branch, explained her enthusiasm. "I am excited about the chance to work with Rutgers
University and create a new library branch in Camden. A partnership with Rutgers will result in
innovative programming and services that will serve as a national model for success," Devlin said.
"Working together with Rutgers will allow us to share our resources, talents, and facilities while
strengthening our ability to meet these goals and serve the residents of Camden."
"This is a unique opportunity for residents, the County Library System and for Rutgers," said
Freeholder Ian K. Leonard, liaison to the Camden County Library. "With this and the newly upgraded
Ferry Avenue branch, the residents of Camden City --from kids to students and adults, will be well-
served with state-of-the art computers and search capabilities, including job search, an increased
range of books, a computerized checkout system, literacy and reading programs, events for kids and
teens and much more," he said.
The Rutgers Future Scholars program is a University-wide initiative aimed at providing academically
high-achieving students opportunities for educational growth, social development, and personal
enrichment in an effort to prepare them for acceptance into higher education upon high school
graduation and success once they enter. Currently there are 200 Rutgers Future Scholars on the
Rutgers–Camden Campus, in grades 7-10, from the Camden City Public Schools and the LEAP Academy
University Charter School.
The downtown library branch will serve as a center for college access, providing resources,
materials and programming for Camden city youth and their families to help them with the college
admission process. Students will be able to take SAT preparation classes, learn about financial aid,
and receive individual support from Rutgers students who will serve as mentors as they go through
the college admission process.
"Rutgers will also sponsor literacy and arts enrichment activities. Working with faculty, staff and
students (undergraduate and graduate) from the various centers and departments on the Rutgers–Camden
Campus (such as the Center for Children and Childhood Studies, the Center for the Arts, and the
academic Department of Childhood Studies) activities will be planned to increase early literacy and
promote family literacy activities: storytelling; children and young adult author visits and book
readings; citywide youth poetry/spoken word programs; and arts enrichment activities" said Nyeema
Watson, administrative director for the Rutgers–Camden Center for Children and Childhood Studies.
In addition to the renovation of the lower level of the Robeson Library, Rutgers-Camden is also
embarking on a comprehensive overhaul of the central campus library, which was built in 1958. This
summer, the University will conclude renovations with a state-of-the-art computer laboratory which,
together with all the other innovations, will have updated the facility for the demands of a 21st
century research university.
Plans for the branch library renovations are still under review, with more detail to come over the
next couple of months.
|Camden County Freeholder Ian Leonard speaks on the Rutgers–Camden campus beside the Paul Robeson Library on Wednesday June 1st. An area of the library will become an outpost of the Camden County Library system, and will deliver children's services, public computer access, and other services to the citizens of Camden County.