Longport celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Longport Public Library Thursday, July 26 with a ribbon cutting of a commemorative plaque, reception and ice cream social. From left, board member Roy Law, Commissioner Dan Lawler, board member Erin Schiavo, Library Manager Ricky Gerhardt, board members Trish English and Fran Kenny, Mayor Nick Russo, board member Damen Tomassi, and Gerhardt’s children Olive and Liam.

The Longport Public Library celebrated its one-year anniversary Thursday, July 26 with a ribbon cutting of a new plaque outside Longport Borough Hall, a reception and ice cream social.

The event was attended by more than 100 people, who agreed the library is a great addition to the community. Children played with toys or painted ceramic sea shells and star fishes and anxiously awaited the serving of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Mayor Nicholas Russo welcomed Pleasantville Mayor Jesse L. Tweedle, who attended the event along with Library Advisory Board members and supporters.

Russo addressed the crowd gathered outside Borough Hall and spoke about the importance of life-long education and learning. Children learn first from their parents, he said, then in elementary school, high school, college. Fifty years ago, most people finished their education in high school.

“Years ago, that was all that was expected of you. The concept grew into lifelong learning. We’re not stopping learning when we are 17, we are not stopping learning when we are 18,” he said. “This is a lifelong process. Places like our libraries and educational institutions keep that alive and make us better citizens.”

He spoke of citizenship and the First Amendment that provides all Americans with the freedom of religion, assembly, press and speech.

“It’s places like public libraries that are open to everyone is where we want to be when we talk about preserving these four freedoms,” he said.

Members of the Library Board unveiled a new bronze plaque installed outside the library in front of Borough Hall. The plaque dedicates the library to the people of Longport as “a place to enrich the lives of current and future generations.”

The library opened a year ago after the borough entered a shared services agreement with the Margate City Public Library to provide library services in Longport and help hire and advise staff.

The new library occupies the same space in the stately brick building as the Longport Branch of the Atlantic County Library System, which closed in December 2016 shortly after residents passed a non-binding referendum to withdraw from the county system and form their own library.

Margate, which is also not a member of the county system, has provided training, support, circulation and cataloging services, shared software system, emergency tech support and shares in program offerings and marketing support.

Although there are fewer books in the library, it has become a hub of activity for children and adults under the supervision of Library Director Ricky Gerhardt, including adding a new art gallery, concerts, lectures, movies, game days, knitting and reading clubs, activities, and trips.

The library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Sunday. It stays open till 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

For more information about the library and a schedule of activities, see longportpubliclibrary.org.


Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.