Brief Library History

Helen Bradley's Gift

The history of the Asbury Park Public Library begins in 1878 with the formation of a literary club, presided over by Helen M. Bradley, wife of the city's founder, James Adam Bradley.

The literary club was reorganized shortly after its beginning into the Asbury Park and Ocean Grove Library Association.

James Bradley donated two building lots at the southwest corner of First and Grand Avenues to the Library Association for the construction of a library, and he himself worked with an unnamed New York City architect in 1881 to design the new building which was to house an auditorium and museum in addition to a library.

The building was built in the Queen Anne Style and the most characteristic stylistic element was a high tower at the northeast corner of the structure. The integrity and expression of the building's style was greatly compromised and diminished by the removal, in 1930, of the tower and an associated chimney and gable.

The people of the city voted at a referendum in 1897 to create a "municipal free public library", and took over the operation of the building as a publicly owned and municipally operated facility. In 1901 another referendum gave approval to a bond issue to complete purchase of the building and completion of construction.

The Asbury Park Public Library has a collection of over 100,000 titles and has been serving the Asbury Park area for over 125 years. We have thousands of registered patrons and in addition to serving our local community we also lend materials to other libraries all over the county, state, and even the world.