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Orange Library Reopens

Without fanfare or much announcement, the historic building gets back to business

Get those overdue books back now; the Orange Library is open for business. Part of the REBL system, Orange's books and history resources are again open for South Orange residents. In addition, the institution was founded by Montrose residents, and remains a historic and significant building.

The library closed on April 30, cited for lead paint and asbestos violations. The city's Health Department closed the library after it failed to meet a deadline for remediating the problems, and the director, Doris Walker, was suspended.

At that time, Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. described the situation as a "ticking time bomb." He has asked for the director's resignation.

At the same time, he noted, "the building must close because continued use represents a serious hazard to the health and life of those who use and work at the library. I have become aware that in December 2003, the Library Director received a report of an asbestos survey and lead-based paint screening conducted by Hillmann Environmental Group. The inspection discovered extensive lead paint and asbestos. It stated that "nearly all lead-based paint found within the library was covering asbestos containing plaster and browncoat." In the more than six years since the Director received that report, the problem has not been resolved."

Paterson contractor Alpine Painting and Sandblasting was hired to remediate the lead paint at a cost of more than $43,000.

The library reopened this month with little fanfare. For much of the summer, Orange residents relied on other REBL libraries, such as the South Orange Public Library.

The Orange Library, known formally as the Sticker Memorial Library, was designed by Stanford White of the firm of McKim, Mead and White to design the building; his designs also mark the Washington Square arch, the original Penn Station and the Pierpont-Morgan Library. The Stickler Memorial Library is a Beaux-Art and Classical Revival edifice complete with Ionic and Doric columns. Any resemblance to the dome of Columbia University's Low Library or the iconic frieze carvings of Butler Library is no coincidence; the same architect designed all. Thus the Orange Library has a dome; around its eight sides are carved the disciplines that patrons of the library might pursue, now that the building is again open, whether Literature, Religion, Law or Medicine.

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