History of the Emerson Public Library

The Emerson Public Library was founded by a small group of dedicated residents in 1957 as a private library, which charged one dollar per year in dues. Our collection on opening day, November 1, 1958, was only 5,000 volumes, which were housed in a small room library under constructionin the Hillman Park Field House. Initially, the Library was only open ten hours per week, and contributed to the quality of life for residents by hosting an annual art show, author talks, and a yearly dinner-dance.

The 1960’s brought increased services to residents when, in 1962, the Library joined the Mid-Bergen Federation of Public Libraries. This allowed patrons to borrow not only books, but also framed paintings, sculpture replicas, and record players from nearby towns. Within the Federation, Emerson became known for its collection of books about American art.

In 1963, the Emerson Public Library became a true public library when the founding Library Association handed over responsibility for funding the Library to the Borough. These founding members immediately formed a Friends of the Library Association. Nineteen sixty three brought another landmark achievement in the form of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, which recognized Emerson as one of the”Ten Best Small Public Libraries” in the country. However, throughout this period, the Library was still operating out of its cramped quarters in the Field House, and in 1974, a new, purpose-built facility was completed. This is the building that houses the Library today.

Further expansions of service could now proceed, and Emerson joined the Bergen County Cooperative Library System in 1979. This enabled patrons to access the catalogs of all BCCLS member libraries via CD-ROM, in 1989.

 old library interior

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