In digital age, Burlington County Library aims to be bigger, bolder

The Burlington County Library is preparing for the future with an overhaul of its website and a building expansion and renovation that is scheduled to be finished this fall. Systems Coordinator Ranjna Das says modernization is needed to satisfy the demands of a technologically advanced population.

“With expanded and ever-increasing use of library facilities we are addressing community needs by offering the enhancements,” Das said.

The $6.2 million addition to the library’s headquarters in Westampton includes a 260-seat theater, wireless cafe, drive-up window, DVD and Blu-ray viewing area, gallery space, children’s storytelling room and reading nooks for adults. A new roof and HVAC system will also be installed.

“There is something for everyone at the library,” Das said. “Information is available about anything from learning a language, to playing games to doing research for a business.” Das says the library’s revamped website is more informative and user friendly than the old site, providing members easy access to a vast amount of information.

“The new website is more current and includes staff involvement,” Das said. “Each library location has its own blog for communication to local residents. Content is up to the staff of each branch.”

Meghan Pembleton says she enjoys the convenience of the website. “When I discover a book I want to read, in just a few clicks I can find it (in the library database), request it and have it held for me at my local branch.”

Das says the new website is also a place to learn about community resources, non-profits, government resources and schools. “The main thing is, it’s more informational,” she said. “Events calendars and some other areas of the website are updated daily.”

The increase in demand for digital downloads to personal e-readers is another reason the website needed revising. “Use of ebooks has more than doubled within the last two years,” Das said. A new library app compatible with Android, iPhone, Kindle and Blackberry devices allows a user to search for books, access their account and download books right from their device.

Burlington Libraries Information Consortium (BLInC) is made up of one central library, seven branches, eight member libraries, two county college campus branches and a bookmobile. All but three municipal libraries in Burlington County are affiliated.

Belonging to the consortium gives each library access to a wide range of resources, including more than 900,000 volumes, a multi-million dollar reference collection, thousands of print and electronic periodicals, and online databases for every subject imaginable. The system employs approximately 190 workers. BLInC library-card-holders have access to each library, electronic information and reciprocal privileges with both Atlantic and Ocean County’s library systems.

The library, founded more than 90 years ago, still fills more traditional needs as well.

“I bring my two kids to the library at least once a week,” Pembleton said. “They’re avid readers and it’s the only way I can afford to keep up.”

In a challenging economy, the library is especially accommodating. Card holders can borrow books, movies and games for free. They can also check out passes to several New Jersey museums. And, naturally, there are still incentive programs to encourage summer reading for school children.

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