CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ--Commissioner E. Marie Hayes was recognized by the New Jersey Library Association as a 2021 recipient of the Library Champion Award.
Library Champions are recognized for their exceptional contribution to those who contribute to libraries through substantial gifts or materials, a significant advocacy effort, a legislative or political initiative, or support of a library in a First Amendment challenge.
Commissioner Hayes serves as the liaison to the County Library Commission and an active member of the Franklin Street Library Committee. The Cape May County Board of Commissioners and Library Commission are partnering with the City of Cape May to relocate the city library branch and utilize a majority of the building, sharing space with the Cape May Center for Community Arts (CCA), a multicultural education organization whose arts, humanities and history programs foster creativity, community building, and appreciation for the rich diversity of our world. The renovated facility will provide expanded and updated space and add new and innovative services for the residents available through the County Library system.
"I'm honored to accept this award on behalf of the Board of Commissioners", said E. Marie Hayes. "The Cape May County Library Commission and the Board of Commissioners have made major improvements in our libraries over recent years in many of our communities. The Franklin Street School is another example of restoring and using a significant historic building for a project that will enrich the lives of our residents", Hayes added.
The Franklin Street School was built in 1927 and opened in September 1928 as an elementary school for African-American students during the period of segregation. Segregation ended in the late 1940s when the state outlawed it. Today, the Franklin Street School is distinguished as a contributing building to the Cape May National Register Historic District. It also is designated by the State of New Jersey as an African American Historic Site. The building served a number of different purposes since the school closed and fell into disrepair in recent years. The building will house the Center for Community Arts in addition to the Cape May branch of the County Library.
"The Franklin Street School although historic, represents a time and place in history that never should have occurred or be repeated. The restoration of this building into a library community center will represent those sentiments", Hayes added.
The virtual awards ceremony will be held on June 2.