Official Ceremony Opens Princeton Public Library
The much-discussed, much-anticipated event finally arrived on a sun-drenched Saturday morning as a sizeable throng of well-wishers, young and old alike, gathered on Witherspoon Street to celebrate the ceremonial opening and dedication of the town's new jewel The Princeton Public Library.
A musical prelude was performed by the Princeton High School Studio Jazz Band Sextet and by 72-year old, life-long Princeton resident Floyd Phox, who sang a soulful rendition of Old Man River.
Library Board of Trustees President Harry Levine served as master of ceremonies and introduced a variety of guest speakers. Princeton Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill celebrated the library as an example of spirited cooperation between the two Princetons. Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, by her own admission not given to poetry or song, used this occasion to do just that, and offered up an original variation on Clement Greenberg's well-known classic, The Night Before Christmas. Omnipresent Congressman Rush Holt offered congratulatory remarks and acknowledged that he has used the new library since the doors first opened and still has a few books checked out, but was quick to add that they were not yet overdue.
Hillier project architect Nicholas Garrison heralded the building as a challenging community project that was not simply the work of a talented group of architects, designers and engineers, but a collective effort that included a wealth of ideas and suggestions from Princeton residents as to what the library should be and how it should function. Mr. Garrison also praised the library art committee for their selection of interior artwork that helped to bring the interior spaces alive.
Leslie Burger, the library director, thanked all those who contributed their efforts to make the library possible and offered a special acknowledgment to the library staff. Additional speakers included Brian Hughes, Mercer County Executive; Dee Patberg from the Historical Society of Princeton; and Bonnie Kunzel of the New Jersey State Library.
Following the speeches, a ribbon cutting ceremony featured the major capital donors, George and Estelle Sands, for whom the library is named.
After a spirited Chinese Lion Dance by Princeton High School students concluded the ceremony, everyone gathered inside the library for a first-hand tour of the space and to share refreshments. For those who could not make the opening, it's time to run, not walk, to check out this acclaimed building. And be sure to look closely at Ik Joong Kang's detailed mosaic art wall in the lobby consisting of 3,700 three-inch by three-inch tiles.