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Grant number: PY-258642-18

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PY-258642-18

Somerset County Library System (Bridgewater, NJ 08807-2136)
Rebecca Ann Sloat (Project Director: May 2017 to present)

Somerset County, New Jersey: The Evolution of a Thriving Community: From Farming to Fortune 500 and Beyond

Eight digitization days and eight public programs to be held at different branch libraries in the Somerset County Library System. Public programs would focus both on preservation techniques for personal and family collections, as well as on local agricultural history. At one program, a local history librarian would discuss how the county’s library system grew out of a 1930 mandate to improve rural access to library services. In response, the county developed a book lending network, composed of staff, citizens, book trucks, schools, churches, and private homes. In addition, an exhibit on Somerset County’s agricultural heritage would be featured at the annual Somerset County 4-H Fair. The project would be supported by partnerships with community-based organizations, such as the Somerset County Historical Society, the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Somerset County, the Courier News, Franklin Township Public Library, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Digitized local history items would be made available on a county website, as well through a research portal, the New Jersey Digital Highway at Rutgers University Libraries.

Somerset County, New Jersey, is a true cultural mosaic. From its earliest history, it has grown from an epicenter of the farming industry to become a diverse community comprised of over 333,000 people, boasting over 8,000 acres of preserved farmland while also being home to powerhouse Fortune 500 companies. Somerset County Library System (SCLSNJ) plans to take the next steps toward building a community memory. We will embark on an eighteen-month series of eight programming and eight digitization events. We invite our diverse cultures to learn about their NJ history while also preserving it! SCLSNJ will partner with neighboring libraries, community and cultural organizations within Somerset County. Personal narratives and memorabilia will be digitized to forever add a personal mark in the history of the county, and the website MySomersetCounty.org will be expanded and designed for ease-of-use so that it might be a tool for future generations of researchers and community.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
Cultural History; History, General; Public History

Program:
Common Heritage

Division:
Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$12,000 (approved)
$12,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2019