Source: Sunday Sun, March 16, 1958 -- Column entitled "All Around The Town" by Mildred Taylor.

Our Miss Books

Sunlight streaming through tall winders slants down on a desk in the center of the floor of a room lined with books.  A slender woman smiles as she stamps a volume for a little girl wearing a kerchief and reaches for the book preferred by a boy waiting his turn.

Usually, the woman is busy in her own office or elsewhere in the large pleasant building.  Today she is filling in in the Children's room because of illness of a member of the staff.  Her name is Miss Agnes C. Norton, director of the Teaneck Public Library, who is known and admired by thousands of residents of the community.  In her office is the plaque she received in 1951 when she was named Woman of the Year in Teaneck by B'hai B'rith for her work toward brotherhood.

She laughs when she recalls how her mother remarked that she was sure to become a rolling stone when she left a job in Hanover, N. H. in 1929 to take the Teaneck position.  Born in Proctor, Vt., she had gone to Normal school in Fitchburg, Mass., taken library training in Springfield, Mass., and Columbia University.  Her first job was in Attelboro, Mass.  After that she worked in the Children's Library of Boston City Hospital before going to Hanover.  The "rolling stone" began her 30th years in Teaneck this month.

Today is a special day for Miss Norton.  In observance of National Library Week, open house will be held from 3 to 6 p.m.  In the library of which she is so proud.  She will receive visitors with members of the library board headed by Allen Walsh.  Practically everyone will be there sometime during the afternoon -- township officials, member of the Board of Education, civic and cultural groups and many who just love books and the library.

Bill Messner's film, " This Is Teaneck", will be shown every half hour in the auditorium.  Staff members will conduct tours through the beautiful building.   The Garden Club has made flower arrangements for the occasion and paintings by several members of the Bergen County Artists Guild will be on display.

Miss Norton will think back to the small library with white pillars that served Teaneck when she arrived.  That building, designed by Frederick Warner, had opened in 1927 with 650 books. Today there are 65,535 books in the library.  The original building has become the Young Adult room.  Additions designed by the late George M. Cady in 1936 and 1953 retained the Georgian architecture chosen for the first buildings.

The library really began before the first building was put up on the Municipal Grounds.  It began in the sunroom of the home of Mrs. Archibald N. Jordan 1910.  Her brother-in-law had given her a collection of books he did not want to more.  She circulated them among the neighbors.  A group of women she became known as "The Library Ladies" joined the project.  It outgrew Mrs. Jordan's sunroom and moved to a candy store, then a drug store.  The women incorporated so they could own property.  They brought property on Teaneck road and Bedford Avenue where the old Slone cabin stood and opened their library in the cabin in 1923, promising to pay $18 a month on a $2,000 loan.

They met the payments by dint of bake sales, concerts and tea dancers.  Two years later they sold the property at a handsome profit--$15,000!  They agreed to finance a public library if the township would donate land and appropriate $5,000 a year for maintenance.  The project was approved at a special election with 179 citizens voting for and 11 against the library.  The first building was erected on the Municipal Grounds.

Teaneck is a reading town.  That is apparent any day of the week when the library is open--which is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.  In the morning baby carriages and strollers surround it as young mothers stop in for books on child care, novels, materials for club papers or to look at books and magazines on interior decoration.

When school is out, bicycles are parked on the walks along with more baby carriages.  The children's room, presided over by Mrs. Friedrich, is filled with youngsters who are polite and well behaved.  Girls in pony tails and youths in Argyle sweaters fill the young adult room, their book satchels and top coats parked on the floor. In the evening older students come to pore over books and look up reference material.

All day long the adult reference room with its polished tables lighted by reading lamps shaded in dull gold is in use.  A clergyman is preparing a sermon, a young man in horned rim glasses is poring over physics tables, a pleasant woman is inquiring about records circulated from the music room.

Most recent addition to the library is a ceiling projector given by the Teaneck Kiwanis Club for the use of people who are bedridden and unable to hold a book in their hands.  Pages of the book are projected on the ceiling and the person unable to hold a book may read, operating the projector with his toe or his elbow.

Those who visit the library today will see on display a collection of firearms owned by John Malloy, James Osborne and William F. Haeker Jr., son the township treasurer.  It includes two Winchester saddle carbines and seven Colt percussion pistols of the police, Army, Navy, Root and pocket varieties.  

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