History

History

Library service in East Hanover dates back to 1923 when Mrs. LeMoyne Burleigh  started a branch of the Morris County Library in her home at 182 Mt Pleasant Avenue.  This service was continued for 35 years by Mrs. Burleigh and her daughter Mrs. Leighton Speer (Connie). They kept approximately 50 books on hand, mainly fiction and garden books. At first the books were sent by railway express from the State Library in Trenton and picked up in Madison.   In later years books were delivered every other month by bookmobile from the Morris County Library.

Operations of the Library were obviously a labor of love.   Mrs. Speer often related that their home library was open any time there was a light on in a downstairs window.

That usually meant weekends, holidays and weekdays after 4.  Connie’s regular profession as a school teacher made her particularly supportive of the children and one of her regular services was to get books for their school reports.

Mrs. Speer’s involvement with the Library continued as a member of the Board of Trustees, first when it began as an Association Library in the 1958, and later when it became a Municipal Library.  She served as President from 1960 to 1977 and was then a regular board member until her death in 1983.

During the 1950’s there was a rapid growth in the population of the town and a regular Library was needed.   During this period a Girl Scout troop under the leadership of Eileen Barker (who eventually became the first Library Director) and Virginia Barnes conceived the idea of starting a Library on their own. 

They collected old books, many of which were donated by the Madison Library. 

In January 1959 a Library officially opened in a small two room house that served as an office at Restland Memorial Cemetery. Michael Deskovick of the Whippany Construction Company donated the building and relocated it behind the town hall at 415 Ridgedale Avenue – where the current Library is located. 

The scouts basically ran the Library themselves until 1962 when the Town moved the Library into an annex of the Township, an old house on Garfield Avenue. 

In 1968 the current Town Hall was built, and the Library moved into its vacated space, sharing the building with the Fire Department.  In 1984 the Fire Department moved into their current facility on the corner of Ridgedale and DeForest Avenues.  At that time the Library Board created a Master Plan to meet the demands of a growing population and the need for expanding Library services.   The building was renovated and expanded into the entire building. In 2003 the Library continued with their Plan by renovating the library and adding the Children’s wing. 

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