The Van Buren Branch Library, located in Newark's Ironbound district, first opened its doors on September 23, 1923. For more than eighty years, the branch has been a cultural and educational center within the community, serving over 40,000 children and adults from predominately European and Latin American backgrounds. A newly renovated and expanded Van Buren Branch Library re-opened on November 19, 1997.
Located east of Penn Station, bordered by the Passaic River and surrounded by major highways and the railroad, the Ironbound feels more like a village than a neighborhood of a major city. In the 1820s, German and Irish immigrants first settled the Ironbound and worked in the factories springing up amid the Industrial Revolution. Successive waves of immigrants—including Italians, Poles, Slavs, Jews, Lithuanians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Brazilians, and Latin Americans—followed this pattern, finding jobs and a chance at the American Dream in the Ironbound and Newark.