A BRIEF HISTORY
OF OUR LIBRARY
Brainchild of the Totowa Woman's Club, the Free Public Library of Totowa Borough was created through a referendum, and incorporated by the State of New Jersey during the term of Mayor Joseph Ryan. During its organization meeting on January 9, 1957, Mrs. Mary Mitch was elected President of the first Board of Trustees; Mrs. Anne Mathews, Secretary; Mrs. Jean Pombo, Treasurer and Dr. Paul Ferrary, Vice-President. Also serving on the board were Mayor Ryan, Mr. Joseph Gorab, and Mr. Leo Fallon.
At that meeting a budget of $7,800 was requested from the Borough and a three-month exploratory period was agreed upon to familiarize the Board with the organization and operation of a public library.
The Library Board chose to rent a store from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Walker, and obtained Miss Miller, then librarian at Passaic Valley High School, to work on a part-time basis organizing the actual operation. At the May 22, 1957 meeting, Mrs. Oliver Westerveld was hired as librarian. Mrs. Westerveld and Miss Miller completed plans for the opening of the Library.
With appropriate ribbon-cutting and open house ceremonies, the new Free Public Library of the Borough of Totowa was opened September 7, 1957. Through a book drive, using a truck donated by the American Legion Post 227, 1,979 books were acquired for use by the Library.
At the end of 1957, Mr. Frank Hart was appointed to the Board. Mrs. Ruth Wickham joined the Board in 1958.
In July of 1969 the Library moved to its present quarters in the new Municipal complex, and became the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Library. Inside the main room is an oil painting of the general by the famous local artist Charles Henry Norman. Eisenhower sat for the portrait while President of Columbia University, and the painting was donated to the library by Mr. Norman at the dedication ceremonies. Mrs. Stuart Neil was named Acting Librarian, and Mrs. Thomas Lembo, who had been Assistant Librarian from 1958 remained in that post.
The first full year's report in 1958 stated that 11,902 books were issued and 1,346 membership cards were reported. After extensive weeding and updated registration in 1994, the circulation figures in 1997 were 26,652 books and 1,626 non-book materials, with 3,602 members registered.
The library entered the computer age as the card catalogs were replaced with public access terminals. In July 1994, PALS Plus, the Computer Consortium of Passaic County Libraries was formed. Members include Clifton, Lakeland Regional High School, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque and West Milford. An automated circulation system links all participants and enables them to share a database which includes books, periodicals and sound recordings. The Library also has automated interlibrary loans with Bergen County and Morris County Libraries. This expanded service gives the Totowa patron borrowing access to materials from all over the state of New Jersey.
The most recent step into the 21st century has been the addition of access to the Internet. As technology advances, the library recognizes the challenge to provide the services necessary to meet the needs of all patrons from preschoolers to senior citizens.