In 1973 the communities of Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, and Lavallette petitioned the Ocean County Library Commission for their own branch facility. Area residents were eager for a permanent branch library. Bookmobile service existed, but customers of the barrier island wanted more. In 1986, the Ocean County Library Master Plan detailed a building program for eleven new branches in Ocean County, including one in the Upper Shores region. In 1988 a Library Committee headed up by Lavallette residents Thomas & Joy Grosko was appointed to work with county and municipal officials to obtain a suitable location.
Various properties were proposed and discarded before the current site in Lavallette was chosen in 1990. As the ballfield is part of the NJDEP Green Acres program, the borough had to offer other land throughout the town to make up for the square footage the library is built on. Their compliance with this space preservation requirement was what made the location available as a library site. Groundbreaking was held on October 24, 1994. During construction, the Friends of the Library organization formed, with the first officers installed on October 2, 1995.
Grand opening for the Upper Shores Branch was held on Dec 2, 1995. Since then the library has continued to grow and become the community center for northern barrier island residents and visitors. During its first year, the library registered 2,600 patrons and checked out 88,000 items. As of November 2013, there were 11, 224 registered borrowers and 192 non –resident borrowers. The branch routinely circulates over 103,000 items each year and registers an average of 50 new patrons each month. The Friends of the Upper Shores Library offers great support and advocacy and is an invaluable part of our operation. Material contributions include the garden bench statue of children reading which is loved by all, the outdoor Reading Garden which is thoroughly enjoyed by the entire community, and many other capital improvements. They also support programs for adults & children offering a healthy budget each year. Fundraising efforts have been achieved over the years with bus trips, book sales, author luncheon events, the annual Psychic Fair, and the annual bake-less cake sale. The group is a joy to work with.
Major gifts made over the years include:
Built-to-scale Barnegat Bay A-Cat model enclosed in Plexiglas display case: Donated by the Lavallette Heritage Committee in honor of the first anniversary, Dec. 4, 1996.
Built-to-scale model of famed Charles Hankins skiff in Plexiglas display case: Donated by the Lavallette Heritage Committee in honor of National Library Week, April 1997.
Custom made copper weathervane commissioned in 1995: Catboat, named Friendship by the Friends of Upper Shores was designed by Kenneth Lynch of Connecticut. Friends of Upper Shores paid for repairs & reinstallation of the weathervane as a Five Year Anniversary gift in 2000.
Copper statue/garden reading bench: Donated by the Friends of Upper Shores December 2003.
Reading Garden: Donated by the Friends of Upper Shores May 2009
Over the years four branch managers have served the community here: Gail Bourque, Rita Oakes, Kelly Ann Pennell, and June Schneider. Anniversaries have been celebrated at the five year, ten year & fifteen year marks. Tuesday, 8/3/2010, Upper Shores honored its 15th Anniversary with a three hour long celebration including family friendly entertainment and refreshments. More than 1,000 people attended the event, marking the highest door count of the summer.
Upper Shores was proud to take part in the 125th Anniversary of Lavallette on Sunday, September 23, 2012. Our reception for the Crew of the USS La Vallette & their families included live piano entertainment covering songs of the WWll era provided by town resident, Gary Evans, a lovely buffet and a comfortable place to relax, the guests of honor enjoyed the prelude to the 125th Anniversary Borough Parade & Festivities amidst the art exhibit of Navy brother George Eisenberg. Joy Grosko, the woman who worked so hard to bring a library to this town, was honored as Grand Marshall of the parade. It was a very special day.
Just a month later on October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy, aka Superstorm Sandy, hit our coast and devastated much of the region. The northern barrier island coveted particularly severe damage. The storm was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane in many years, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. Due to Superstorm Sandy the Upper Shores Branch & Bay Head Reading Center were closed for ten and seven months respectively. There was resounding support from the community, the county, the state, and from around the country. Many donations were made, but the emotional support was priceless.
The Bay Head Reading Center enjoyed a lovely grand reopening on Saturday, June 1, 2013. Almost three months later on Saturday, August 24th’s soft opening of Upper Shores was a resounding success. The joyous occasion brought more than 250 friends and customers who came to share in the long-awaited event. 350+ items circulated between 10 am and 1 pm, and at least as many hugs & warm wishes were delivered.
The grand reopening ceremony of Upper Shores couldn’t have been better. Perfect weather, heartfelt speeches, a ribbon cutting followed by refreshments & great entertainment made it a day to remember for old friends and new friends as well. Colleagues from the NJ State Library and NJLA joined us for the celebratory event. New friends included Kathy Granitzki and Martha Bowden. Both were invited guests who had reached out shortly after Sandy hit with offers of help. Martha Bowden was instrumental in bringing about the generous donation sent to us from the Pass Christian Public Library in southern Mississippi. Kathy Granitzki was instrumental in bringing us another sizeable donation made by the Center Grove Elementary School in Randolph, NJ. The outpouring of support and concern following Superstorm Sandy was unprecedented and full of hope & promise. Meeting two of these special people face-to-face on September 7th added a whole new layer of meaning to the celebration.