Scotch Plains is a township in Union County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The township is located on a ridge in northern-central New Jersey, within the Raritan Valley and Rahway Valley regions of the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2020 United States census, the township’s population was 24,968. In 1940, only 4,993 people lived in the township.
The library – built in 1968 – reflects a time when the community was much smaller. A major initiative focuses on building a new library. The Mayor of Scotch Plains said that the new library “will expand its role as a community-focused facility offering more programming, resources, and improved information necessary to meet our communities’ growing needs for the next 50 years. The plans also include an outdoor plaza that will be part of the library’s main entrance and will expand the space that the library will have for activities and outdoor programs.”
In its current building, the library has to offer most of its programming in the basement meeting room, which is not as well set up for large events, fitness classes, or cooking classes, but nonetheless the library and its partners have made the space work.
Despite being known for its suburban character – median family income is $126,138 – Scotch Plains is physically close to Plainfield, New Jersey which has high poverty and large BIPOC populations. Many from that community utilize Scotch Plains library programs. Furthermore, like every city in America, Scotch Plains has pockets of poverty, and the library is seen as “friendlier” in public’s eye, compared to city hall or other government access points.
In terms of health promotion, the library has a long tradition of striving to serve “the whole child.” Director Michelle Willis has her background in youth services librarianship and has been a leader in the American Library Association’s Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC). Willis has always looked for opportunities to bring fun, enriching activities to the youth of Scotch Plains, including cooking, gardening, and play and movement activities.