Addition of the Jersey Collection Gave Statewide Status to Library

Culture and Education
Published May 8, 1997

Addition of the Jersey Collection Gave Statewide Status to Library

| Published May 8, 1997

The Newark Public Library under construction in May of 1899. The Newark Public Library

This is the second part of a two-part article on the Newark Public Library as it celebrates its 110th year.

The Newark Public Library’s prominence as a statewide institution was enhanced tremendously in 1939 when the New Jersey Collection was installed as part of the Reference Department. That year also, the first microfilm reader was added to the reference service and free non-resident library cards were granted to students attending Newark colleges.

Here’s a look at events that occurred during the second half of the library’s 11 decades of statewide and community service: 1939: 'Contemporary Europe' exhibition points out possible hot spots in Europe prior to World War II. 1940: The library phonograph record collection is started. 1941: The Summer Reading Program for children starts; branch library facility opens at Stephen Crane Village apartments. 1942: The library establishes a Victory Book Drive program; Beatrice Winser retires; Marguerite L. Gates named acting director; library and museum become part of the Mayor's Office. 1943: The administration of the library and museum are separated; music collection begins adding operatic librettos. 1945: The Office of Librarian is changed to Director; foreign language record collection begun. 1946: An insurance alcove opens at the library; books on crafts sent to Lyons Hospital; bond issue of $740,000 approved for main library renovation. 1947: 15-minute radio shows begin describing reference books; former librarian Beatrice Winser dies. 1948: Construction work begins on the library maintenance building; all war-time black paint is removed from windows in reference areas; paperback book collection started; library prepares book lists for a Freedom Train visit to the city. 1949: Hebrew book collection started; employee loyalty oaths become mandatory; municipal library opened in City Hall. 1950: A second bond issue passed for the main library renovations; fourth floor closes as a result of planned construction.

1951: Library closes for massive renovation in July; reopens in late August; extension services opened at the Fire Academy; Polish children's book collection grows at Van Buren Branch. 1952: Final stages of the main library renovation completed; book return box added at front door. 1953: Noonday book reviews and American Heritage discussion groups held for adults; library trainees program started for training new librarians. 1954: First photocopy machine installed; Jenkinson Collection installed in special cases in 'Printing Hall' outside Art and Music Department. 1956: First international interlibrary loan received from a German university; John Cotton Dana Week marks 100th birthday of the former director. 1957: Non-resident card fee is raised from $3.00 to $5.00; Children's Division separated from the Education Division. 1958: John Boynton Kaiser, director since 1943, dies; James 'Ned' Bryan becomes director; library joins the New Jersey Film Circuit; new bookmobile purchased. 1959: Reading Improvement Classes held for adults for first time; library supplies Police Department with records management help; five-day work week established for the professional staff, including alternate Saturday assignments. 1960: Reference collections established for research-type materials; library director Bryan chairs first Newark Historic Sites and Buildings Committee; librarians begin school visits; library receives financial aid from the state for first time.

1961: Large numbers of books purchased with state funding for first time; Music Division begins preparing program notes for classical concerts at library. 1962: Full-time professional storyteller added to children's programs; branches increase their African-American and Spanish-language materials. 1963: NPL designated a U.S. regional document depository; $25,000 grants received for the Business Library collection from the W. Paul Stillman Fund at Mutual Benefit. 1964: City threatens to close the library and museum; portion of library air-conditioned for first time; library use and records hit all-time high. 1964-1965: College aide program begun in four of the library's children's rooms; major renovation begun at Business Library. 1966: Large print adult book collection started; construction of a new Branch Brook Branch begun; library plays vital part in the Newark Tercentenary Celebration. 1967: Noon-day movies program begun; library sponsors the Newark Little Symphony Orchestra; NPL works with TEAM (Total Employment and Manpower Project Center) and provides Newark Senior Citizen Commission books and help. 1968: Use of the Library by minority students, especially in the African-American and Latino communities noted. 1969: Third-floor addition to Maintenance Building completed; Library's holdings pass million mark. 1970: Service to the disadvantaged upgraded; Spanish-speaking storyteller added to staff; Portuguese Consul presents collection of 430 books to library; employees affiliate with the AFSCME after library is bypassed by the city for raises.

1971: Old handwritten-card catalog put on microfilm; copies sent to New Jersey area libraries; new and widely read 'New Acquisition in Black Studies' established; book stock in Spanish-language materials greatly increased; bulk loans of other foreign language materials begun across the state; new bookmobile purchased; storefront opened in Model Cities Multi-Purpose Center. 1972: Old Newark News morgue acquired for the New Jersey Division; library takes over operation of the Essex County Youth House Library; service to shut-ins begins; director James Bryan retires; J. Bernard Schein named new director; 'Roving Reader' begins service throughout the city as mini-bookmobile. 1973: First outdoor book sale held in the library's side yard; New Jersey Division designated an official depository for New Jersey state documents; City Hall branch library opened. 1974: Public relations staff member added, and New Jersey Library Association holds first annual convention in Newark in years; index to The Star-Ledger begun; Books-by-Mail program starts up. 1975: The library is now operating on all four levels of statewide library service; library photographic lab begins copying materials for the public. 1976:- Library staff chairs the Newark Bicentennial Commission; Young Adult Room prepares 'Summer Happenings' series. 1977: Budget cuts greatly hurt the Library's outreach role; nevertheless, NPL publishes its first Spanish booklist and works with the Newark Black Film Festival; William Urban becomes library director. 1978: Continuing books budget cuts hamper the collections. 1979: Thomas J. Alrutz named library director; computerization of the catalog begins; two Hispanic-bilingual librarians hired; more career-oriented materials added to education center. 1980: Volunteer tax assistance begun in the New Jersey Division; discussions held with the State Library for a Computer Output Microform supplement; operetta based upon Stephen Crane's 'The Bride Comes to Yellow Skv' has world premiere at library-sponsored Crane Conference; Business Library celebrates 75th anniversary.

1981: Job Information Center established; staff studies sign language; Black Studies Division holds first Kwanza celebration. 1982: Deep budget cuts result in the layoff of 89 staff members and demotion of 31 others; patent collection goes on line; portable telephones received for deaf and deaf-blind patrons. 1983: NPL begins lending small computers; Kurzweil Reading Machine installed for the blind. 1984: In a massive library restructuring, the library splits into three large departments: Main Library Services, Support Services, and Community Services; homework hotline established; Lorraine Hansberry Lecture Series sponsored by Victoria Foundation. 1985: Library opens on Sunday; NEON (Newark on line) established for free-based computer reference service; old card catalog officially closed. 1986: Library Literacy Campaign starts; High/Low book collection (books of interest to older students with low reading skills) and SPAN committee organized for long-range library planning; library takes lead in city's 150th incorporation anniversary celebration with exhibit viewed by 35,000 people; exhibit later moved to Gateway Galleries. 1987: NPL establishes a Development Department for fund-raising and public relations; Thomas Banker serves as interim administrator; restoration of Main Library begun; renovation and expansion of Springfield Branch undertaken. 1988: Charles F. Cummings appointed acting director; Dr. Alex Boyd arrives from Chicago Public Library to assume full-time duties as permanent director later in the year. 1989: Sala Hispanoamericana opened to provide Spanish-language services and collections; microfilming of Newark Evening News morgue collection. 1990: Friends of The Newark Public Library founded; prominent New Jersey historian John T. Cunningham is founding president; Jazz Century Exhibition and programing becomes the basis for the Newark Jazz Festival, chaired by Dr. Boyd.

1991: First International Cultural Festival celebrates Japan; first phase of the refurbishing of main library completed; Topcat, the library's computerized catalog, goes online; Dr. Samuel Berg leaves the Library $2 million and local history photographic collection. 1992: Library suffers devastating budget cuts by the city; Special Services Room opened to provide literacy, English-as-Second-Language, and other specialized services; renovated and expanded Weequahic Branch opens. 1993: Summer Reading Challenge, a program to encourage children to read, begins; International Cultural Festival celebrates Italy; library celebrates 500 years of Puerto Rican history and culture. 1994: Newly renovated North End Branch Library opens; Club Success, homework assistance program, begins. 1995: Library receives $550,000 National Telecommunications Administration grant from U.S. Department of Commerce allowing for massive automation project; NPL celebrates 150 years of Jewish history with major exhibition, 'Lasting Impressions.' 1996: Award winning author Philip Roth agrees to chair first annual fund-raising campaign; Van Buren Branch renovation begun; library unveils web site: 1997: Dr. Alex Boyd elected president of the New Jersey Library Association; Public Technology room to open.

At 110, the 'librarian's library, ' the 'people's university,' the 'best bargain in town,' and the 'American Library that made the word public its middle name,' is still going strong!