The Long Beach Island Branch has a delayed opening at 1:00pm on Thursday, 04/04/2024, due to inclement weather.
Address:2 Jackson Dr., Jackson, NJ 08527
Phone:(732) 928-4400
Fax:(732) 833-0615
Local History

Jackson Township is a classic example of a municipality becoming a suburb after existing for many years as a rural area. European settlement commenced shortly after Richard Nicholls, English governor of New York, granted the Monmouth Patent in April 1665 to 12 families who had already settled in Middletown on lands purchased from the native Indians. Settlers were generally of English descent coming from the New York area, especially Long Island, or in some cases, were whalers who had moved inland from the coast.

The trickle of settlement continued through the years and when the state legislature created the township in March, 1844, the population was 800, scattered in a series of isolated hamlets and villages, interspersed with sawmills, gristmills, and large farms of a hundred acres or more. The community's prosperity was dependent, in those times, on a successful harvest. Other early industries were cranberry cultivation, charcoal and tar production, and for a short time oil drilling, an unproductive venture.

Some discussion centers on the origin of Jackson's name. Some subscribe to the notion that the township was named after William Jackson who owned a sawmill at Jackson's Mills, but recent historians dismissed the suggestion pointing out that there were citizens much more prominent and affluent at the time. The general consensus is that the name honors President Andrew Jackson.

During the early 20th century, the population varied according to economic fortunes. Munitions testing at Lakehurst Naval Air Station originally brought 1,000 people to the area. Poultry farming boomed in the 1940s, but by 1955, when Perdue moved its operations to the Maryland/Delaware area, this industry was dead. Because of that collapse, land values decreased sharply, setting the stage for development into suburbia.
Jackson's history was influenced by a large community of Russians who began arriving in significant numbers in 1934, but had been an earlier presence when the Lakehurst testing center tested ammunition for the Tsar. The influx came with the founding of ROVA Farms in 1934. ROVA (a Russian contraction of Russian Consolidated Mutual Aid Society), a burial aid society, used surplus funds to buy 1,400 acres of the old Van Rise estate at $10.00 an acre. The restaurant and bungalows were built in the 1930s, along with the two onion-domed churches, St. Vladimir's Memorial Church (1937) and St. Mary's (1938).

Since the 1950s, with the older generation dying out and younger generations relocating, the population has dwindled; about 10% of the original population remains. While once the celebration of St. Vladimir's Day would draw upwards of 50,000 people, more recent gatherings draw 1,000 to 2,000 people. Still, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, there has been an increase in the number of younger Russian émigrés, an indication that interest in the culture may see a revival.

With the collapse of the poultry industry, and declining land values, the next stage of development did not occur until 1960, when developer Robert Smertz took advantage of low property prices and built 2,000 homes in a development known as the Brookwoods. Other developers followed.

In the early 2000s, Jackson is totally suburban, with over 65% of its 24,250 adults, 18 years and older, commuting to work in Trenton, North Jersey, New York, and even to the casinos in Atlantic City. The population has more than doubled in the past 30 years, from 15,000 in 1,890 dwelling units in 1960, to 18,300 in 1970, 25,600 in 1980, and 33,300 in dwelling units in 1990. The 2000 Census indicates even more growth: 42,816 residents living in 14,640 units. That is a far cry from the 800 souls who inhabited the small hamlets in 1844.

Jackson has a Township Committee form of government, consisting of five members elected to three-year staggered terms. A mayor is selected from one of the Committeemen to serve one-year terms. The committee meets twice a month.

Source: Jackson Community Profile June 2001, created by Ocean County Library.

Branch History

A resolution adopted by the Jackson Township Committee in October 1973 created a seven member library committee to examine the feasibility of a library in Jackson Township. In November, five more members were added. Although another study committee had been formed in 1965, it wasn’t until the second group was established as a Library Commission in 1974 that a library became a possible.

The Commission asked the Jackson Board of Education to donate a parcel of land for the proposed library. A 2.34 acre parcel of land on Coventry Road was deeded to the Township for the site of the library. The name of the road has subsequently been changed to Don Connor Boulevard.

The decision to become a branch of the Ocean County Library, rather than a municipal library, was the result of the Commission’s examination of the dedicated library taxes paid to the County of Ocean, and the kind of services which could be provided through the County Library. A joint agreement was signed by the Jackson Library Commission, the Jackson Township Committee, and the Ocean County Library Commission.
The original plans for a building with a geodesic dome were rejected by the Township Committee in favor of a conventional structure, which was felt to be more aesthetically appropriate. Grand opening ceremonies of the Jackson Branch Library were held in July, 1978. Some books were still on the floor and the parking lot was not paved, but the residents were more than ready to begin using the new library.

The use of the library and materials in it expanded rapidly. By 1982, an addition was being considered. The Jackson Library Commission, which had become the Friends of the Jackson Library, reconsidered the concept of a geodesic dome, particularly in view of the fact that the addition was to be used as a children’s area. This time the Township Committee agreed, and funds for the project were appropriated. The new wing, which housed the children’s collection and a small staff room, was completed in time to celebrate the Branch’s sixth anniversary in July, 1984.

Since then, the population of Jackson has continued to increase along with the need for library services from the Branch. The 1990 Census recorded 33,233 Jackson residents who were being served by the crowded 4,000 square foot facility. Library customers include many families with young children; therefore a second full-time Children’s Librarian was added to the staff.

The library was located on Don Connor Boulevard (formerly Coventry Road), .3 miles from Route 528, between the Jackson Senior Center and the Jackson Memorial High School. It is located in the geographical center of Jackson Township, which is 100 square miles, but in a largely undeveloped area of the township.

The Jackson Library was a single story structure including the attached geodesic dome for the children’s collections and programs. Inside the dome are brightly colored shelves which line the perimeter and extend like spokes of a wheel towards the center of the room. The main room includes a circulation desk and a reference desk. Several wallpaper murals decorate the room, but are largely covered up by shelving as the collection continues to expand. The branch staff shared a work area behind the circulation desk, and there is a separate staff lounge. There are no private offices, and the building is handicapped accessible. 

Written by Paul Zubritzky, Principal Librarian.
1980s to the present

As part of the 1985 master plan, a new branch was being planned for. At the time, the Jackson branch was the third busiest of the branches. The county system pledged to pay half of the buildings projected cost, which was roughly $3.6 million. The township already designated a spot for the new library on a 65-acre property that would house a new municipal justice complex. The land, already owned by the township, is across Don Connor Boulevard from the cluster of municipal buildings. (Source: Library Overdue? Jackson looks at growing need vs. municipal tax, by Laurence Arnold, Press Lakewood Bureau, Asbury Park Press, 1/8/1994.)

The Township Committee transferred more than eight acres to the Ocean County Library Commission last night in return for $500,000 that will be applied toward the construction of a new county library branch here. The new branch is expected to be 24,000 square feet – about six times the size of the current building. The cost of the new branch is projected at $4.5 million. (Source: Jackson provides land for library by Gary Liebesman, Toms River Bureau, Asbury Park Press, 12/10/96.)

On Saturday, September 25, 1999 at 11:00 am, the official groundbreaking ceremony took place. The building was designed by local architect James W. Hyers of Jackson. The estimated cost for the entire project (including construction and site work) is $4,900,000, which will be split between the county and the Township of Jackson. The new branch will feature 24,000 square feet, a 90 seat meeting room, 80,000 volumes on the shelves, a 12 station technology lab, café, children’s story/craft room, quiet study room, etc. The estimated completion date will be the spring of 2001. (Source: Local newspaper clipping, paper/date unknown)
The Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony for the new Jackson Branch of the Ocean County Library were held on Saturday, November 10, 2001.

The ceremony included the following:

  • A welcome and flag salute by Elaine McConnell, Library Director
  • National Anthem by Kathy Erikson, Little Egg Harbor, Branch Manager
  • Invocation by Rev. Barbara Novick, Jackson United Methodist Church, Special Award presented by Mimi MacMullen, Principal Librarian Children’s Services to the Brielle Ramm and Switlik School
  • Presentation of the key to the building by James W. Hyers, Architect
    Benediction by Archpriest Philip Petrovsky, St. Vladimir’s Memorial Church, Speeches by: James J. Mancini, Library Liaison, Board of Chosen Commissioners, Joseph D. Grisanti, Mayor of Jackson Township, James F. Malone, Chairman, Ocean County Library Commission, Ted Koch, President of the Friends of the Jackson Branch and John Glace, Library Branch Manager

2001 and beyond

The library continues to serve the people of Jackson Township and Ocean County. In 2012, the Jackson Branch answered about 84,292 questions. According to the New Jersey Public Library Survey in 2013, the Jackson Branch circulated approximately 374,899 items. The library houses over 109,855 printed volumes for customers to read.

In 2013, the library held over 50 adult programs, 160 computer classes for adults. During the Children’s Summer Reading program there were 423 children registered for the Summer Reading, 177 children who read at least 5 books, 34 programs with 1240 who attended. A wide-variety of outside groups use the library’s meeting room space including schools, scout troops, businesses, government, and civic groups.

Compiled by Meagan Toohey, Principal Librarian.

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