Library History

The first written records show that in September of 1902, there was a Haddon Heights Library Association. This was an association library with paid memberships. After approval by the Library Committee, the prospective member paid his dollar fee and then had the privilege of borrowing two books for two weeks. Even in 1902, there were members who were reluctant to return books in the given time and they were fined five cents a week.

The first library room was located in the Baptist Church on White Horse Pike for which a donation of a dollar a month was given. A year later the library moved above the post office at the corner of Station Avenue and White Horse Pike. The rent was $3.50 a month. All the expenses of operating the library were paid from dues, fines and donations. Books were purchased whenever funds were available. One form of raising money was through entertainment. Movies and plays were popular with the townspeople. At the annual meeting of the Association a movie would be shown and then a collection taken for funds.

The first president of the Library Committee was Frank B. Jess, with L. S. Joyce, T.B. Main and H.E. Rogers also serving. The first librarian was Miss Fanny Belding and her assistant was Mrs. T.B. Main. Their service was paid for by a free membership in the Association.

In August 1908, a request was made to Council for permission to use the Council chamber in the new Town Hall as a Library. Council agreed and the library started operating in the Town Hall, where it remained until 1965.

In February 1914, the Association dissolved and all property was turned over to the Ladies’ Club of Haddon Heights. By April this group had reorganized as the Woman’s Club of Haddon Heights. The charter was turned over to Borough Council “to have and to hold forever” in May of 1914. The Woman’s Club appointed a temporary Library Committee including Mrs. J.W. Levering, Mrs. M.A. Arnold, Mrs. R.B. Lewis and Mrs. Laufenberg. The Club donated $10.00 for books and then proceeded to raise funds by canvassing homes for books and money. Letters were sent to all residents, places of business and read in all the churches asking for support. In 1915 another room in Town Hall was provided by Council for library purposes. Lincoln’s birthday was made a permanent “Donation Day” annually for collecting funds and books. Mrs. Bertha Frost replaced Mrs. Towle as Library Chairman. The Woman’s Club operated the library until 1922 when it was voted on election day to make the library a Municipal Library, to be the responsibility of the Borough and to operate under the State Laws for such libraries.

Mayor Dallas appointed the first Board of Trustees of the Haddon Heights Free Public Library. Mrs. Bertha Frost was appointed librarian. Mrs. Frost served until she resigned in 1950 at which time she had directed the library for 27 years.

The Board of Trustees hired Mrs. Anita W. Jones as librarian in 1950. The library was closed from September to February in order to catalogue the collection.

In 1952, Mrs. Jones resigned and her assistants, Mrs. S. Livingston and Mrs. I Wunder, were appointed co-librarians. In 1955, an electric book charging machine was installed.

In 1957, the Board of Trustees realized the need for larger quarters. The Library had outgrown Town Hall. In 1958, the Jr. Women’s Club made a survey of public opinion on the need for a larger Library. The Club offered to raise funds to add onto the rear of the existing building, but this was considered impractical by Council because the Police Department used this area as a drive. The Library continued to serve the people adequately as possible in a building that was long outgrown and was never meant to handle the number of patrons that were by this time using the Library.

The Board of Trustees outlined the need for larger quarters to Council periodically. In 1962, a survey was made of Town Hall and Library facilities, following which Council and the Board of Trustees worked up plans for adequate space for Library purposes. Initial plans were revised following public hearings. By 1965, federal aid, architectural plans and site were a reality. The old Town Hall was to be demolished and a new library building erected on the site.

The last week of July 1965, the library was moved from Town Hall into temporary quarters at 606 Station Avenue until the completion of the building.

A group of interested citizens formed the “Library Building Fund for Haddon Heights, Inc.” and collected contributions for furnishing and equipping the new library. The new library is furnished entirely through the generosity of the town people.