In 1896, a private library with an annual subscription fee of $3.00 was established in a small building donated by James R. Hay opposite the Nutley Railroad Station on Highfield Lane. In 1904, the Nutley Library moved from its original site on Highfield Lane to 381 Passaic Avenue and remained at Passaic Avenue for ten years as a private library. The original intention of the sponsors was to give the books to the Township of Nutley when a location for a library was found. When an Andrew Carnegie grant provided funds for a new public library, the 3,000 books were moved from Passaic Avenue to the present site at Booth Drive. The former library was converted into a residence with the unusual feature of a circular tower on the south side.
On August 25, 1980, a 65 by 40 foot section of the second floor ceiling collapsed knocking over bookcases and causing severe damage. Fortunately, the Library was closed at the time. During the repairs, only the first floor was open for service. Books were moved downstairs and, when possible, librarians would retrieve books from upstairs as requested by patrons.
The dedication, in October 1990, of an addition and renovation designed by James Goldstein and Associates completed the current library facility. With this addition, the Library was expanded to 20,000 square feet, while preserving the historic appearance of the original Carnegie structure. The project was funded through Township bonds, a New Jersey State Library Construction Grant, library reserve funds and moneys raised through the efforts of the Friends of the Nutley Public Library.
Now, the Library maintains a collection of approximately 90,000 books: 65,000 adult, young adult and reference volumes and approximately 25,000 children’s books. Additionally, the Library provides audiobooks, large print books, magazines, music, videos, video games and downloadable ebooks and audiobooks.
In 1996, the Library became the 70th. member of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System(BCCLS). The Library is fully computerized and the holdings of all the BCCLS libraries are available, as well as various on-line computer services. The computer system is designed to be accessible 24 hours a day via modem and/or the Internet. The Library is also a member of the Open Borrowing reciprocal borrowing program.
The Library is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of five citizens appointed by the Mayor for five year terms and two ex-officio members – the Mayor and the Superintendent of Schools or their delegates. The Board decides library policy; appoints the library director; provides for building maintenance and safety; and prepares and administers the budget for staff salaries and other library services and expenses.
The library is funded by the Township, New Jersey Per Capita State Aid, and donations.Permanent gift funds enhance the library’s collection. Eighty percent of the interest from these funds is used each year for the purchase of books and other materials. The library welcomes additional donations to these funds as well as gifts for the purchase of materials.