It all started when…
The origins of the Sea Bright Library can be traced back to local artist Sarah Hilton, who noticed that a library — a place to gather, lounge with a good book or magazine, or enjoy story time — was all that was wanting in Sea Bright. Hilton opened the first floor of her gallery as a library and spread the word in town that she was accepting book donations — 197 cartons of books later, she quickly ran out of space! Hilton had by then teamed with librarian Penny Rappaport, and the two women decided the only solution was moving the budding library to a portable trailer.
Serendipitously, in 1992, local philanthropist Jay W. Ross met with Sea Bright’s then-mayor Charles Rooney (predecessor to our current councilman Charles Rooney III) to propose donating a computer lab to Sea Bright. Mayor Rooney quickly responded that what Sea Bright really needed was a library. Ross, who had already contributed a wing to the Monmouth Beach library, immediately jumped on board and construction for a new library was underway by the end of the year.
The JW Ross Library & Cultural Center officially opened in 1993 and soon became not only a home for a growing collection of books, but a community center and space for local artists to exhibit their work. After his death in 2007, the family of longtime resident Franz von Ziegesar decided to fund an extension in his name to commemorate his love for Sea Bright, books, and learning. Under the guidance of longtime library director Joan Walsh, the von Ziegesar wing opened in 2008, adding 30% to the library’s square footage and more than doubling its shelf space.
The JW Ross Library stood steadfastly until 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast. After the storm, the Sea Bright United Methodist Church opened it’s doors and shared its walls with the library, whose own building had suffered too many damages. While the original structure, so lovingly built, was lost, the community it represented was maintained. ,guided by current Director Jane Farmer; this year Sea Bright will see the opening of its new oceanfront library (as part of the Sea Bright Pavilion) where that community will continue to thrive!
The new Library space will feature a charming sea-themed children’s section; a cyber bar where patrons can charge phones and tablets or settle-in to read and work; computer workstations; and cozy reading corners. Additionally, patrons will be able to take advantage of an oceanfront deck with a spectacular view of the shore, lounge chairs, and access to Wifi.
We are a small group of educators, avid readers, and tea drinkers.