Montclair Public Library

The Montclair Public Library is the public library for the township of Montclair located in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. It serves the residents from two buildings, the Main Library and the Bellevue Avenue Branch. It is a member of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Montclair Public Library
Montclair Public Library logo.png
Established1869 Edit this on Wikidata
LocationMontclair, New Jersey, USA
Access and use
Population served38,021[2]
Other information
DirectorPeter Coyl
Staff36 FTE
Montclair Public Library - Bellevue Avenue Branch
185 Bellevue Ave Montclair NJ-SWM-TLW- 2012-09-23.jpg
Montclair Public Library is located in Essex County, New Jersey
Montclair Public Library
Montclair Public Library is located in New Jersey
Montclair Public Library
Montclair Public Library is located in the United States
Montclair Public Library
Location185 Bellevue Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey
Coordinates40°50′29″N 74°12′19″W / 40.84139°N 74.20528°W / 40.84139; -74.20528Coordinates: 40°50′29″N 74°12′19″W / 40.84139°N 74.20528°W / 40.84139; -74.20528
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectF.A. Nelson
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Institutional
MPSMontclair MRA
NRHP reference No.86003076[3]
NJRHP No.1189[4]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJuly 1, 1988
Designated NJRHPSeptember 29, 1986


The Montclair Public Library had its beginnings with the founding of the Montclair Library Association, a 30-person subscription-based organization started by Israel Crane in 1869. On April 12, 1893 citizens of Montclair voted to establish a free public library. It was housed on the second floor of Dr. John J.H. Love's office at 16 Church Street. Mary F. Weeks served as the first Library Director, until 1897. An abandoned inn (called Munn Tavern) was purchased and became the new home for the Library in 1898.

A branch was established in 1899 in a rented room in the real estate office of John Mancini on Bellevue Avenue, near the Upper Montclair train station.

The first building constructed solely for the library was completed in 1904 with $40,000 from the Carnegie Corporation. This building at 73 Church Street served as the main library for 50 years. This building is now part of the Unitarian Church, located at the intersection of Valley Road and Church Street.

In 1913, the Carnegie Corporation gave Montclair a second sum of $40,000 for the construction of the Bellevue Avenue Branch. Designed by the architect Francis A. Nelson, the branch opened on December 26, 1914.[5]

In 1927, Margery Quigley became the sixth director of the library. Her book "Portrait of a Library"OCLC 1750291, co-authored with William Marcus, the library board president, was revolutionary for changing the concept of public libraries from that of a place for quiet reading to that of a dynamic information center. It drew the attention of Director Hans Burger, who developed a film of the same name in 1940, which was distributed by the Museum of Modern Art and shown throughout the world under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State. In February 1942, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) designed the first ever punch card data processing system for the library, also making the first public library in the United States to have a computerized circulation system.[6][7]

In 1955 the Davella Mills Foundation donated the former site of Dr. Love's home, whose offices served as the first library, as the site for the new library building. They also contributed $250,000 toward the $800,000 construction cost. Designed by Ralph Walker of Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith, it was noted for its large glass windows and an absence of internal load bearing walls.[8]

In 1996 the Main Library closed for an extensive renovation and expansion, reopening a year later. In 2002 it was named one of the top five libraries in the nation by Library Journal.[9][10]


  • Mary F. Weeks (1893–1897)
  • S. Augusta Smith (1897–1909)
  • Katherine School (1909–1912)
  • Helen M. Hereling (1912–1915)
  • Alta M. Barker (1915–1927)
  • Margery C. Quigley (1927–1956)[11]
  • Ruth P. Tubby (1956–1968)
  • Arthur Curley (1968–1975)
  • Betty J. Turock (1975–1977)[12]
  • Phillip M. Clark (1978)
  • Ellen Foth (acting, December 1978 – April 1979)
  • Michael L. Connell (1979–1999)[13]
  • Carol W. Robinson (acting, 1999–2000)
  • Howard W. Curtis (2000–2001)[14]
  • Cheryl M. McCoy (acting, 2001; director, 2002–2006)[15]
  • Mary Lou Skillin (acting, 2006)
  • David Hinkley (2006–2016)[8][16]
  • Peter Coyl (2017–present)[17][18]

Prominent staff members and trusteesEdit

  • Margery C. Quigley (1927–1956) Library Director. Served on ALA Council and Executive Board, and winner of the 1941 Wilson Publicity Honor Roll[19]
  • William Elder Marcus, Jr. (1921–1946) member of the Board of Trustees. Recipient of the inaugural 1941 ALA Trustee Citation[20] and author of numerous articles on Public Library Trustees,[21] as well as served on the Library Public Relations Council.
  • Dr. Lillian M. Gilbreath (1943–1953), member of the Board of Trustees
  • Zoia Horn (1952–1954) Librarian, advocate for intellectual freedom[22]
  • Arthur Curley (1968–1975), Library Director, later served as ALA President
  • Ella Gaines Yates (1970–1972), Assistant Director, later served on ALA Executive Board and as President of the Freedom to Read Foundation
  • Betty J. Turock (1975–1977) Library Director, later served as ALA President


  1. ^ IMLS Data.
  2. ^ "Census profile: Montclair township, Essex County, NJ".
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Essex County" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection - Historic Preservation Office. April 1, 2010. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 19, 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  5. ^ "Library History". Montclair Public Library. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  6. ^ Guy A. Marco, "The American Public Library Handbook", ABC-CLIO, 2011, page 370.
  7. ^ John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Charles R. McClure, "Public Libraries and the Internet: Roles, Perspectives, and Implications", Libraries Unlimited, 2010, page 60.
  8. ^ a b Marco (2011), page 287.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "2002 Library of the Year: Kalamazoo Public Library Kalamazoo, Michigan".
  11. ^ "Montclair Librarian to Retire". The New York Times. 8 April 1956.
  12. ^ "Betty J. Turock".
  13. ^
  14. ^ "100% Locally Owned Radio Stations". 26 August 2015.
  15. ^ "CHERYL MCCOY Obituary (2014) - Newark, NJ - the Star-Ledger".
  16. ^ "Montclair library director bids farewell".
  17. ^ "Montclair library names new director".
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Montclair (N.J.) Free Public Library | Awards & Grants".
  20. ^ "Trustee Citation Award | Awards & Grants".
  21. ^ Marcus, William Elder (1929). "What the Business Man Believes Should be a Part of a Public Library Program". Bulletin of the American Library Association. 23 (12): 770–771. JSTOR 25687108.
  22. ^ "Memorial Resolution" (PDF). American Library Association. Retrieved 2021-04-17.