def # 207 11/01/11
OCEAN COUNTY LIBRARY A MODEL OF SHARED SERVICES
TOMS RIVER - With 21 branches and more than 400,000 registered borrowers, the Ocean County Library system is an
example of a shared service that has developed as a result of ongoing partnerships between Ocean County and its
municipalities more than two decades ago.
"In this day and age with the growing need to consolidate services and increase shared services, our public library
system in Ocean County is a prime example of how efficient these measures can be," said Ocean County Freeholder Director
Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the library system. "The Ocean County Library system is a model in the state
of New Jersey on how effective partnerships can be."
In the mid 1980s, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized the need to provide conveniently located
library facilities and services to its citizens. The Freeholders developed a plan to build libraries in a manner that
would realize economies of scale for both municipal and County government while providing access to a library within no
more than 10 miles and or 25 minutes driving time from a resident’s home.
The late Freeholder James J. Mancini, considered the architect of the library system expansion that started more than two
decades ago, developed a plan wherein Ocean County and a municipality would enter into an agreement to split the cost in
half of either building a new branch or renovating an existing facility. The Ocean County Library Commission would then
run the library and provide books, materials and staff.
"As a result of this plan we have been able to work in conjunction with our municipalities and provide important library
services used by more than 70 percent of our population," Vicari said. "The towns were very receptive to this partnership
and it has been a true benefit to hundreds of thousands of citizens and visitors."
The idea of shared services to realize economies of scale was an idea ahead of its time, County and library officials agree.
"This is a great example of how sharing services and resources can work," said Henry J. Mancini, chairman of the Ocean County
Library Commission and son of the late Freeholder James J. Mancini. "Not only does the cooperation between the County and
its municipalities create cost savings and greater efficiencies it has also created an award winning library system for
the residents of Ocean County.
"The fact that the system has grown into a 21 branch system is a direct result of the working partnership between county
and local governments," Mancini said. "We continue to provide high quality services in a cost effective manner which is
only possible through this cooperative effort."
The Ocean County Library was named a four-star library by Library Journal in their October 2010 issue. Ocean County
Library was one of only 258 libraries nationwide out of 7,407 public libraries to receive a star ranking. The Ocean
County Library has been recognized with two prestigious library awards. The National Medal awarded in
2007 by the Institute of Museums and Library Sciences was presented by First Lady Laura Bush in Washington, D.C. and
recognized the Ocean County Library as one of the best libraries in the country. The library also received the John
Cotton Dana award for Library Public Relations.
Library Commissioner James T. Mullins noted that with state aid drastically reduced and with the CAP on municipal
spending too many libraries throughout the state have had to reduce hours or even close.
"County library systems provide a wider range of services through consolidation and shared services," Mullins said.
"This creates economies of scale to produce cost saving tax benefits while delivering borrower services."
The Ocean County Library also has a shared services agreement with Monmouth and Burlington counties allowing borrowers
to enjoy library services across county lines.
"The Ocean County Library system has a combined collection of more than 1.2 million books and materials," Vicari said.
"Last year, circulation was almost 5 million and librarians answered 2,359,084 reference questions.
"Undoubtedly our library system is one of the most far-reaching services offered in this County and we have been able to
do this by closely working with our municipalities," Vicari said. "This library system started as a vision 25 years ago
that has been well thought out and well implemented. It is not just the facilities but also the staff that delivers the
services everyday. With the theme of ‘Connecting People, Building Community’ it makes an invaluable difference in the
lives of our citizens."