546 West Side Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07304
Phone: (201) 547 - 4554
Branch Manager: Beatriz Urrutia
Chief Librarian: Hussein Odeh
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In 1971, then-Library Director William J. Roehrenbeck presented plans to the City Council for a satellite library in the vicinity of West Side and Mallory Avenues. Requesting $10,000 for setup, Director Roehrenbeck emphasized that the library’s budget could not accommodate this satellite library, which would be a direct extension of the Miller Branch.
At that Council meeting, Councilman Morris Pesin was quoted saying, “I think it is deplorable that thousands of our children are being denied an essential part of their educational life. I feel confident that I shall be able to secure the aid of my fellow councilmen in financing this project, which is a mere pittance compared to the millions of dollars that our city is spending.”
(“Director Cites $10,000 Need to Set Up Satellite Library,” Jersey Journal, July 29, 1971: 46s.)
The West Bergen Lending Service set up operation in September of that year at 503 West Side Avenue. Its hours were Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Besides using books from the Miller Branch Library, the West Bergen Lending Service contracted with the McNaughton Co. and rented books for patron lending. As the 1971 Jersey Journal article explained, “Under this plan, the most popular books are rented each month and returned at the end of the month in exchange for new ones.”
Within four years, the West Bergen Lending Service demonstrated its need. A report entitled Jersey City Public Library Achievement and Progress 1971-1975 gave the satellite library high marks: “The Library’s service potential was significantly increased with the establishment of the West Bergen Lending Service in a storefront on West Side Avenue.”
By 1980, the West Bergen Lending Service had grown into a full-fledged library. The West Bergen Branch Library opened daily for library patrons.
In 1990, the West Bergen Branch moved to 476 West Side Avenue, and in 2015, the branch expanded into the adjacent storefront in order to open a new Children’s Room. At the same time, major upgrades were made, including brand-new floor tiles, a new air-conditioning system, renovated windows and restrooms, and an overhaul of the backyard space.
Unfortunately, in the second half of 2018, facility issues at the branch made it necessary to look for a new home. With the support of Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey and Hudson County Freeholder Bill O’Dea, a new location was identified in the neighborhood at 546 West Side Avenue. The new West Bergen Branch Library is housed on the ground floor of a newly constructed building on the corner of West Side and Lexington Avenues. During the branch closure, patrons were provided with free shuttle bus service to the Miller and Morgan Branches.
On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, the Jersey City Free Public Library held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the Grand Reopening of the West Bergen Branch Library.
Community members and well-wishers packed the new branch for the opening, which was emceed by West Bergen Branch Manager Beatriz Urrutia and included remarks from Library Director Priscilla Gardner and Chief Librarian Hussein Odeh. Among those addressing the supporters were Mayor Steven Fulop, Ward B Councilwoman Prinz-Arey, Councilwoman at Large Joyce Watterman, Council President Rolando Lavarro, Freeholder Bill O'Dea, and Library Trustee Sonia Araujo. Regular patrons of the West Bergen Branch, as well as the developers of the new building also spoke.
“Closing the West Bergen Branch left a major gap in our services for the residents of this neighborhood,” said Gardner. “We are thrilled that we have been able to secure and move to a brand-new location in such a short time frame, and we are grateful for the support of Mayor Fulop and Councilwoman Prinz-Arey in this major undertaking.”