The Gloucester County Library System (GCLS) was conceived and developed in the early 1970s and approved by referendum in 1976. In January of 1977, the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders appointed the first library commission. The Commission quickly established book collections in libraries in member communities, municipal buildings, banks, laundromats, gas stations, and other sites frequented by the public. Four months later, the library system began operations with a staff of two in a storefront on Route 45 in Mantua Township. In December of 1977, the library moved to a rented building on Woodbury-Glassboro Road in Mantua Township and functioned there until August 1982.
Between August 1982 and November 1983, the book collection that had been located in Mantua Township was placed in storage, and the staff concentrated on outreach programs to libraries in member communities. From December 1983 until September 1994, the library was located in an 8,000 square foot building in Sewell. The current 28,000 square foot facility, which opened in October 1994 in Mullica Hill, is nearly four times as large as the old Sewell location. This library includes three public meeting rooms that are used for library programs and by numerous community organizations. It also serves as the Gloucester County Library System’s administrative headquarters.
In January of 1995, the Gloucester County Library System began its role as a center for automation with the establishment of GLO-NET. In 1998, it was designated as a regional Technology Hub by the New Jersey State Library. In 2004, GCLS libraries joined other public and academic libraries in Gloucester County in a new automation consortium, LOGIN.
The Logan Township Branch began in 1979 in a former gas station on Center Square Road. Shortly thereafter the library moved to a vacant office in the Beckett Shopping Center. In 1980, the Logan Branch moved to a refurbished office trailer parked on a lot owned by the Beckett Assembly of God. Although this was meant to be a temporary situation, many years passed before the dream of a new library was realized. The current Logan Township Branch Library, a 9,660 square foot building at 101 Beckett Road, opened in October 1995. The library specializes as a popular materials center and young children's door to learning in its effort to serve the growing population of this area.
The Glassboro Branch was started by the Glassboro Women's Club in 1956 with a $2,000 donation from borough funds. Since then the library has moved three times, the last time in 1979. The library occupies 8,500 square feet of a building that was once a grocery store. In 1996, the Glassboro Public Library became a branch of the Gloucester County Library System. Children's programs, Internet access, and a public meeting room make the Glassboro Branch a thriving community center.
The Greenwich Township Branch started in a school building in 1963, thanks to the efforts of a group of interested citizens who began planning for a library in 1958. The library was moved to a converted municipal garage for ten years, and then moved to a classroom in Nehaunsey School in 1975. In January of 1999, the Gibbstown Public Library became the Greenwich Township Branch of the Gloucester County Library System. In May of 2003, the Greenwich Library simultaneously celebrated its 40th anniversary and the opening of a new building, located in front of Nehaunsey School on Swedesboro Road. This library serves the surrounding community as a children's door to learning and a popular materials center.
The East Greenwich Library was established in 1952, and opened in a small shed-type building behind the Clarksboro Market on Kings Highway. In 1962 Emma Engle, a native of East Greenwich and former librarian, rented three rooms in her home on Kings Highway in Clarksboro to the Library. The library operated in Ms. Engle's home for 35 years. The library relocated to a former school house, in 1999. It closed in December 2013.
The Swedesboro Public Library, established in 1783, is one of the oldest public libraries in New Jersey. The library was originally housed in Borough Hall, and moved to its present location in 1944. In 2005, the Swedesboro Public Library became a branch of the Gloucester County Library System. The library was closed on May 1, 2010 for the construction of an addition. A temporary satellite library in the Borough Hall opened a few days later. A Grand Re-opening celebration for the newly expanded library was held in June of 2011. The library now offers a children’s area, computers with internet access, wireless internet, and a meeting room that is available to nonprofit community organizations.
The Gloucester County Library System now provides quality library service to residents of 14 of Gloucester County's 24 municipalities. Over 114,000 residents may take advantage of library services offered through libraries in Glassboro, Greenwich (Gibbstown), Logan, Harrison Township, Newfield, and Swedesboro. More than 60 GCLS staff members, along with association library employees, work throughout the system to provide circulating and reference collections, homebound service, comprehensive children's and reference services, free computer training, and public Internet access. The library's Internet web site offers the public access to library service 24 hours a day. These are just some of the many services available to all members.