The Pompton Lakes Public Library began as a gift to the people of Pompton Lakes from Mrs. Emanuel Einstein in memory of her late husband, who passed in 1909. Mr. and Mrs. Einstein were residents of New York City and spent their Summers in Pompton Lakes. Mrs. Einstein supplied the town with the plot, building, equipment, and a stock of books, which were all dedicated in April of 1912 when the library first opened to the public. The building, an example of seventeenth century architecture and Tudor design, is described in its deed as facing “Wynockie Avenue”, sometimes called “Wanaque Avenue”. Mrs. Einstein specified that the building was to be used as a social center. Although owned by the borough the building’s administrative functions and financial obligations were largely cared for by the Einstein family.
The building’s first floor contained a reading room and a reference section. During the building’s early years the second floor had a variety of uses. It served as a librarian quarters, a weekly clinic for infants, a gymnasium, a meeting place for non-profit organizations, and occasionally served as a dance hall. During World War II, the Red Cross occupied the space for classes in first aid. In 1954, part of the second floor was converted into a children’s room.
Mrs. Alice E. Van Orden, daughter of the late Mrs. Einstein, maintained the library at her own expense until 1953, when she generously donated the grounds to the Borough to be a municipal library and agreed to provide $1,200 to the library each year of its operation after her donation.
Mrs. Van Orden served on the Library Board of Trustees for many years, and was named a Honorary Life Member. She continued to show an active interest in the library. A special Reading Garden was constructed and dedicated, in 1991, to Alice E. Van Orden and the Einstein Family in recognition of the gift bestowed on the citizens of Pompton Lakes.
In 1993, the library actively pursued automation and was one of the original five members of PALS Plus. Working with the PALS Plus consortium, the Pompton Lakes Library was “on-line” by October of 1994. Bar-coded borrower’s cards and materials allow for advances in circulation and maintenance of the collection. The ability to search the on-line catalog containing the holdings of the, 18-member, consortium libraries widens patrons’ abilities to locate needed materials. The expansion of public computers, online databases and various upgrades have successfully brought the library into the age of technology.
The Emanuel Einstein Free Public Library was declared a local historic landmark on July 19, 1999.
The library has undergone a number of renovations since its opening. Recent renovations include new doors and windows, the re-pointing of the library’s exterior, and a restoration of the library’s front entrance, which now includes an ADA compliant ramp.
Over the years, the library has had eleven directors: Mrs. Thomas Wood, the library’s first librarian; Miss. Mary Jacobs; Mrs. David Boyle; Mrs. Laura J. Connolly; Mr. John D. Philip; Mr. Robert Pierce; Mrs. Dorothea DeBrettville; Mr. Joseph Rosenbloom; Dr. John Donovan, Dr. Margaret M. Freathy and current director, Mr. Michael Drazek.
As the library celebrates one hundred years of service to the community, it continues to offer a wide variety of books, fiction and nonfiction, as well as magazines, newspapers, and most recently, DVDs to the public. The library also offers Story Time sessions and a Summer Reading Club for children, and a book discussion group called “Bagels and Books” for adults. The future always holds change and the library is there to grow with the community.