On December 1, 1920, the Oceanic Free Library opened its doors in a new brick building at the corner of River Road and Second Street. The library was a memorial gift to the residents of Rumson from Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Meeker to honor their son, William Henry Meeker, who died in a World War I in an aviation training accident in France during the summer of 1917.
The newly incorporated Borough of Rumson was then just 13 years old with 1,680 residents. More than 200 residents signed on as charter members at a meeting called to determine whether a library would be welcome in Rumson. Residents voluntarily donated their time, property, expertise, money, and books to make this memorial library a reality. Recognizing its location in the town’s most populated district, the library was given the name, The Oceanic Free Library.
On opening day, there were 2,000 donated books on the library's polished walnut shelves. M. Ester Bruce, the first librarian, recalled the children from nearby Lafayette Street School racing there after school to obtain their library cards.
By 1959, demands on the library were great as the library served a growing population of 6,500 residents with a collection exceeding 14,000 volumes. The Trustees of the Oceanic Free Library then decided to relocate to the former Hintelmann’s grocery store and Post Office at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Avenue of Two Rivers. The move took place October 26, 1959.
Today the Oceanic Free Library is one of the state's only privately-funded public libraries. It continues as it did originally and remains wholly independent, supported by the generous donations of its patrons and the community. The library gratefully receives support from the town of Rumson and the annual Community Appeal. However, private donations are still the main source of funding for the library.
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