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Dozens of Hands Make Over Bogota Library

Library Director Radwa Ali in the quiet room while artwork, shelves and other items arranged. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Miguel Batista (left) and Ron Leak use relocated computers after school. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Volunteers moved shelves during the makeover. Photo Credit: Bogota PL Facebook
The shelves are assembled. Photo Credit: Bogota PL

BOGOTA, NJ -- More than 60 volunteers helped Bogota Public Library assemble donated material in a 10-day facility facelift.

“I don’t believe in telling kids that they can’t read adult books or telling adults that a kids’ book is too young for them," said Radwa Ali, the library director.

She hopes combining adult and juvenile non-fiction "will get kids to read more non-fiction.”

The Larch Avenue library was closed from Oct. 2-12 so that crews, staffers and dozens of volunteers could demolish old wooden shelves, paint walls, arrange furniture, and restock books in spacious reading zones.

The library received donated shelves worth $70,000 from the Hun School of Princeton and Montclair Public Library.

Ali, who became directed last December after a two-year stint at the Hackensack Public Library, planned to host volunteers for three days. But residents completed work quickly with their own tools and know-how.

Working with what she said is the smallest budget of the 77 libraries in the BCCLS system, Ali networked with other directors who were ridding items. Once the school year began, everyone got to work -- sometimes for up to 14 hours a day.

“It has a better flow, now. It’s more feng shui,” Ali said.

“Once they see how bright it is, that nostalgia for wood is gone. It’s so much more inviting," she added. "The staff is that way, but the environment now reflects that.”

Bogota High School students are decorating a canvas for the main desk. Meanwhile, Ali and her staff are planning fundraisers so they can add end panels to shelves, and add more tables and chairs.

“This is a really good town. People really step up," Ali said. "We have all of these kids tell us they are bored, and we teach them how to shelve.”


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