Celebrating the Arts and Culture in Newark Neighborhoods
Jeffrey Trzeciak, Director of the Newark Public Library, tells Steve Adubato about the innovative programming they have created throughout the neighborhoods in Newark and how residents are coming together to celebrate arts and culture.
"Hi I'm Steve Adubato. Welcome to a very important conversation we're gonna have about the role of libraries. Not just in Newark, New Jersey and in Jersey, but throughout the nation. And we're pleased to be joined by Jeffrey Trzeciak, Director of the Newark Public Library. Good to see you Jeffrey. Nice seeing you, thank you for having me. Before... you've been here about a year and a half, before that you were out in St. Louis? St. Louis. at Washington University in St. Louis. How did we get you? The position looked really attractive. I've lived and worked in urban settings most of my life. Detroit, St. Louis, Dayton, Ohio, just outside Toronto for a bit. And Newark was a very attractive option for a number of reasons. The library is fantastic. Great collections, great staff, so it was an easy sell. I would not, and I know I speak for a lot of kids who grew up in Newark, New Jersey and surrounding areas. I would not have gone through high school or college if it were not for the New Jersey reference room. You hear the name Charles Cummings? Oh of course. An institution? Yes. Charles Cummings helped so many of us navigate, if you will, through term papers and research in the New Jersey reference room. But that's only a piece... Yes ...of the library. What is it today? Well we provide a wide range of services to every individual within the county, and excuse me, within the city and beyond. We really are a cradle to grave service. The New Jersey room as you mentioned... Sure. ...is an important part. Along with some of other our other cultural heritage centers, like La Sala Hispanoamericana, and soon to be home to the Philip Roth personal library as well. So we provide some traditional reference service, special collection services, but we also provide services ranging from English as a second language, American Sign Language, we teach Spanish courses. We help people find work, we help people find homes. We help people find social services that they need, in terms of unemployment and homelessness, et cetera. A library? Yes. It sounds like a social service agency. I would say that we're becoming more a social service agency than a traditional library in many ways. But even though we provide these services, traditional services are on the rise again, especially at Newark Public Library. Circulation of traditional print books is up, traditional reference services are up as well. And patron visits are up. We had about 450,000 visitors last year. You did? Yes. What about the arts and culture piece of this? We are a cultural hub, and we provide a lot..."