Source: The Bergen Record, January 22, 1973 

Library Circuit Rider Bears Good Books

By Ron Wertheimer, Staff Writer

It may be the nation's best seller, but "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" isn't a hot item at the Teaneck Public Library.

Thanks to a two-week-old arrangement among nigh Bergen libraries.  Teaneck's "Seagull" will be on its way to neighboring towns where waiting lists for the book have more than 50 names.

In return, the dozen Teaneck readers who have filled out reserve requests for Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, "Atlas Shrugged," will be reading copies of the book that were idle on the shelves in nearby communities.

With their passion for the poetic, librarians have dubbed the informal exchange "The Widening Circle."  The circle includes libraries in Bergenfield, Englewood, Fort Lee, Glen Rock, New Milford, Paramus, River Edge, and Tenafly, in addition to Teaneck.

According to Olive Tamborelle, Teaneck's library director, the circle won't get much wider.  With the probable inclusion of Ridgefield, the group will reach its limit.

The program is different from the several library federations already existing in the country.  In these, residents of one community can use libraries in others.  And in the federations, the libraries have formal contractual agreements with one another.

The Widening Circle is different.  The agreement that gave it birth is verbal.  Any member library can pull out at any time.

Under the new program, a reader gets a book from another town by requesting it at his own local library.

It works like this:  You go to your library and look in the catalogue for a book.  If it isn't there chances are it will be somewhere in the 350,000 volumes of the nine library.  so you fill out a request form.

At 9 each morning, a driver leaves Teaneck headed for Englewood with the Teaneck request forms.  He looks for those books in the Englewood catalogue, takes out the ones he finds and takes Englewood's requests to Fort Lee after dropping off the Teaneck books destines for Englewood readers.  

The driver makes the circuit in three to five hours.  No reader will have to wait more than a day for a book, provided one of the cooperating libraries has it.  Miss Tamborelle says 80 per cent of the requests can be filled.

Trading-stamp Car

It may sound complicated, but it works.  In Essex County the same kind of system, with 13 member libraries, has been in operation more than a year.

The individual libraries chip in for the salary of the part-time driver.  He uses the car the Teaneck library bought recently with trading stamps contributed by residents.

As in nearly everything else, home rule dominates the library scene in Bergen County.  But Miss Tamborelle would like to see more cooperation.

"No library today can live along," she says.  "A public library is free to all."

Back to The Library History Home Page

Back to Township History Main Page