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Home | About Us | Branches | Upper Shores Branch | Community Profile
Upper Shores Community Profile upper shores branch

History  

The first inhabitants of the area are thought to be Paleo-Indians, nomadic hunters.  Later, the Lenni-Lenape Indians in the Woodland period made seasonal visits to collect shellfish, fish, beach plums, wild cranberries, birds’ eggs, and perhaps even salt.

The first Europeans to see the area were probably the crew of Henry Hudson’s ship The Half Moon, in 1609.  In the late 1600s, whalers from Long Island and New England established outposts on the beach.  By 1765, the area--cut in half by a 1758 storm—was known as Squan Beach and Lord Stirling Beach.  Smugglers from the mainland preyed upon ships entering the inlet.

There were few permanent residents until the mid 1800s.  The Philadelphia/Long Branch Railroad, traversing Camden through Toms River, across the bay and up the peninsula to Point Pleasant, where a connection could be made to New York, increased access by 1883.  Clamming, fishing, boatbuilding, and ice provided early industries.  Life saving stations were established due to the frequency of shipwrecks of vessels bound for New York.  The Sea Side Park Hotel was established in 1875, with access provided by a hired yacht from Toms River.  The use of the area for recreation increased, and visitors from New York and Philadelphia were common.  Seaside Park was settled in 1876 and incorporated in 1898.  Mantoloking, a part of Brick, separated and incorporated in 1911.  Lavallette incorporated in 1887.  Seaside Heights, originally part of Berkeley Township, separated and incorporated in 1913.

More residents meant the need for greater access.  The Mantoloking Bridge was constructed in 1884.  In 1914-1915, a wooden toll bridge was established across the bay to Pelican Island into Seaside Heights.  The amusement park was built in 1935.

Area residents were eager for a permanent branch library.  Bookmobile service existed, but customers wanted more.  As long ago as 1973, the communities of Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, and Lavallette petitioned the Ocean County Library Commission for their own branch facility.  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.  Plans could now go forward, but a building site must be chosen.  In 1988 a Library Committee 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.  Groundbreaking was held on October 24, 1994.  During construction, the Friends of the Library organization was formed, with the first officers installed on October 2, 1995.

Grand Opening for the Upper Shores Branch was held on December 2, 1995.  During its first year, the library registered 2,600 customers and checked out 88,000 items.

Topography

The narrow strip of land just off the coast of middle and southern New Jersey is really a series of islands, collectively known as the Barrier Islands.  The Upper Shores Branch of the Ocean County Library serves communities occupying a twenty-mile stretch of these islands, from Mantoloking in the north, to Island Beach State Park in the south.  This area is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Barnegat Bay to the west, and only rarely exceeds a half-mile in width.  Composed of beaches and sandy dunes, the area is ecologically sensitive and has long been used as a summer resort.

Community Organizations

Area residents continue to enthusiastically use their branch.  The library turned five years old in December 2000, and celebrated with a week-long series of programs funded by the Friends of the Upper Shores Branch.  First Branch Librarian Gail Bourque took a well-deserved promotion and was succeeded by Rita Oakes.

The branch routinely circulates over 100,000 each year and registers an average of fifty new customers each month.  There are currently over 7,000 registered borrowers.  The library houses over 26,000 volumes.  A Customer Service Satisfaction Survey conducted in October 2000 indicated an overwhelmingly positive degree of support from the community at large.  The library offers a variety of programs for children and adults, Internet access, as well as informational and popular reading materials, books on tape, CDs, DVDs, and CD-Roms, and a staff eager to assist customers with any questions they may have.

There are three preschools in the area:  ABC by the Sea in Seaside Park; Faith Lutheran Nursery School in Lavallette; and Seaside Heights Preschool in Seaside Heights.  The elementary schools feature all-day kindergarten.  Lavallette Elementary School holds classes for students through 8th grade.  The Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School in Seaside Heights and the Seaside Park Elementary School hold classes through 6th grade.

There are no secondary schools in the immediate area in the immediate area.  Students in Lavallette attend Point Pleasant Beach High School.  Students in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park attend Central Regional High School.  Students in Ortley and Normandy Beaches attend Toms River High School East.

Recreation and Entertainment

Water is omnipresent in everyday life.  Sailing, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, crabbing, scuba diving, and swimming are all popular activities, among the year-round residents and the tourists who visit during the summer months.  People not actively engaged in water sports still enjoy walking along the boards or upon the beach.  Life is relaxed and casual.  Summers find the beaches and restaurants crowded, but the locals take it all in stride.  Residents are active in yacht clubs, beach associations, and in church activities.  People are civic minded and support area First Aid Squads and Volunteer Fire Departments.  There is a strong interest in maintaining a clean environment in the ecologically sensitive areas of bay and beachfront.  Island Beach State Park offers a great opportunity for birdwatchers and nature lovers to enjoy pristine beaches, while Seaside Heights offers high-energy amusements with rides, games, and arcades.  For the young people, scouting and baseball provide group activities.  There are active senior citizens groups throughout the area.  The Lavallette Heritage Committee plans a variety of cultural and community events.  The largest of these is the annual “Lavallette Heritage Day” festival, a daylong event held each September featuring food, crafts, and community information booths.  There is an annual town-wide garage sale each June.  Fireworks provide spectacular entertainment each Wednesday night in July at the beach in Seaside Heights.  Outdoor concerts are frequent on Sunday nights at the Gazebo in Lavallette, and there are ongoing events at the Carteret State in Seaside Heights.  The Friends of the Upper Shores Branch Library actively support library programs, particularly providing funds for special events for children as well as adults.

Rita Oakes, Branch Manager

 
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