Our Mission – Why We’re Here:
To provide equal access to information, resources, entertainment, support, and space to members of the Rutherford community.
Our Vision – Where We’re Going, Together:
To be the hub of the Rutherford community and to inspire intellectual, social, and professional growth for all residents.
RPL provides free and open access to information, physical access to our building, and connects patrons with the technology they need to access the world.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The library is committed to serving all patrons and offering collections and programs that meet the varied needs of the community.
- Lifelong learning.
Education does not cease when one stops attending school. We promote ongoing learning through educational programs for all ages and high-quality information resources for individual and group enrichment.
We value our place as the center of the Rutherford community. By forging connections with our patrons and local organizations, we promote the sense of belonging for which Rutherford is known.
The library staff is committed to excellence and assisting each community member to the best of our abilities. We value volunteerism and the notion that we can all make our community a better place.
- Intellectual freedom.
RPL upholds the tenets of the ALA Bill of Rights and supports all community members’ rights to read. We recognize that freedom of speech and thought is central to a healthy democracy.
The Rutherford Free Library Association was established in 1893 and found its first home on the second floor of the Shafer Building at the corner of Ames and Park Avenues in 1894. The Library Association was a natural extension of the Woman’s Reading Club, organized by local historian Margaret Riggs in 1889. After two years in the Shafer Building, the library relocated to Ivison Hall, formerly the First Presbyterian Church, after its owner donated the property. Although this building no longer stands, the library remains in this location.
In 1908, Rutherford residents voted to bring the library under municipal control. The first dedicated children’s room opened in 1929. The library grew and saw increased use during the Great Depression and World War II. It became clear that the existing structure was no longer suitable and could not be further retrofitted to meet the library’s expanding needs. A new building was constructed by local architect Edgar I. Williams, opening to the public on December 22, 1958. The structure’s design was intended to complement the post office, located across the street, also designed by Williams.
As library use continued to increase, additional collections and public seating space became necessary. Less than twenty years later, in 1976, the Grace Dickinson Wing was added, and the library as we know it today opened. This addition more than doubled the library’s square footage, from 14,000 to 35,000. The Dickinson family funded nearly $1 million of the $1.3 million cost. The expansion added an auditorium, tripled the size of the Children’s Room, and added space on the main floor and mezzanine for seating and book shelving.
In 2011, the library administration received notice of impending budget cuts from the Borough of Rutherford due to the Great Recession. As a result, services and staffing were downsized, and the Children’s Room, originally housed in the library’s basement, was relocated to its current location on the main floor. This area on the lower level is no longer controlled by the library and is presently occupied by the Rutherford Board of Education as the site of the Bulldog Academy, a life skills program for differently abled young adults.
The library’s main floor and mezzanine spaces underwent a full renovation in 2016 to modernize the space. A computer lab was added to meet the local need for technology-focused programming. The majority of this project was generously funded by the Rutherford Public Library Foundation. The final public space awaiting renovation is the “classroom” space on the mezzanine level, which has been identified as the location for a new Young Adult area.