The Freehold Public Library, Freehold, NJ
We visited the Freehold Public Library in May. It’s a sweet little Carnegie library right in the heart of downtown. The library remains largely unchanged since it was built in 1904 - including a large skylight that provides a ton of natural light. Times have changed and the Freehold library has evolved to meet the needs of its community.
The community has grown over the years and today the library is chock-a-block full of all manner of books, videos, music, and other resources. It is a small library, for sure, but the director, Kathy Mulholland, and her staff are making the most of it and servicing the needs of the patrons. During our visit, we saw a steady flow of people coming and going, using a range of library services, from computers, to printers, looking for answers - and even checking out books!
The library is also very flexible. While there are no study rooms, for example, one can certainly work and meet quietly in various parts of the library. There is also a downstairs area, which houses the children’s section. One can use this lower floor for phone calls and that quite suffices in many instances.
Freehold isn’t a perfect library, but then no library ever will be. It’s small, cramped, and could use some TLC, but those things don’t mean it isn't a great little library. That’s something that we’re reminded of again and again as we visit various libraries. There’s an assumption that “good” libraries are newly built or renovated, or that you find them mostly in affluent communities. These assumptions, as is so often the case, are incorrect.
Every library has the potential to do great things and provide great services. Does money help? Absolutely! But creativity, flexibility, and a commitment to the community count for an awful lot too. Freehold is a great example of this in action. One of the coolest and quirkiest things we saw during our visit were a series of zines they produce. These are the brainchild of Mulholland and the short little books cover a neat range of topics, including knot tying, spotting fake news, and a Bruce Springsteen tour of Freehold. Fun!
Freehold is an excellent little town library, one that is welcoming and friendly and is trying to do all it can to serve and delight its patrons. If you’re in the neighborhood, why not stop by and see for yourself?