Randolph Township Free Public Library has served the people in Randolph for over fifty years. From humble beginnings, it has evolved to become one of the premier providers of library services in Morris County. Since opening its doors in 1964, the library has grown and expanded in ways the founders couldn’t possibly have imagined, but certainly must have hoped for. Looking back, we can only marvel at the many changes that have taken place over the years, and the people and events that have led us to the wonderful library we enjoy today.
How It All Started
It all began one June evening in 1962, when the local PTA decided to investigate the possibility of opening a public library in Randolph. After six months of investigation, the committee had made little progress. But, just around this time, the Morris County Library came on the scene and the possibility of opening an Association Library with their cooperation became a reality. As Roxbury had just opened a library using this model, Randolph now had an example to follow.
In May, 1963, the Randolph Township Public Library Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization. At that time, Randolph had roughly 8,000 residents, who would be served by the new library. The Association, under its nine-member board, purchased a small stone and concrete house on Millbrook Avenue (the current location of Artworks Studio). The library would occupy the 600 square foot garage, while the rest of the building would be rented out to generate income to support the library.
The library officially opened to the public on June 20, 1964. On that day, the library’s first patrons were registered and the library’s opening-day collection consisted of around 6,700 items, over 4,200 of which were on long-term loan from the Morris County Library. Even today, you can find some of these items on our shelves. Just look for any book that has the “Morris County Library” stamp on it. If you find one, that book was part of Randolph Library’s original collection!
Growth and Expansion
With the hiring of its first paid professional librarian in 1969, the library growth mirrored the growth of Randolph Township. By 1970, the population served by the library had increased to over 13,000 people, and by 1979, that number had gone up to more than 19,000! The library was renovated and expanded to occupy all of its original 2,500 square foot building. Needless to say, the library’s staff expanded to meet the needs of the township’s residents.
In 1977, the people of Randolph voted in a referendum and chose to make the library a municipal department. The Association Library was no more, and in 1979 the Randolph Township Free Public Library was officially born!
Due to the speedy growth of both the township and the library, in 1981 another referendum was held, this time to decide whether or not to build a brand new, state-of-the-art library. When the referendum was defeated, the Town Council directed the Library Board to investigate existing buildings that could be converted to become the new library. This is how the old Ackerman Hotel site, which at that time consisted of dilapidated and crumbling buildings, was chosen to be the new location of Randolph’s public library.
Ground was broken for the new library in November, 1984. Buildings were renovated, interior spaces were planned and furniture bought, and after a year of construction, the library opened to the public in October, 1985.
Over the years, the library has expanded a number of times: The Children’s Room became a reality in 1999. The newly renovated, stylish Teen Zone opened in 2009, and has proven very popular with library patrons. The library’s front entrance and large meeting room were added in 2011, and the old meeting room became a comfortable study space with tables and an attractive water feature.
60 Years of Service to the Community
Over almost 60 years and thanks to the hard work of many people with the support of the residents of Randolph, the Randolph Township Free Public Library has gone from a small corner of a stone house to the first-rate library that it is today. As the township continues to grow, the library will grow along with it. As technology changes and libraries continue to evolve as community hubs, we will continue to expand our offerings, so the people of Randolph will always be up-to-date and able to take advantage of the resources that they so generously support.