Once upon a time, public libraries across the country played a vital role in our communities. In every suburban town and bustling city, the library acted as a gathering place for citizens to socialize and learn. With just the swipe of a library card, people had access to literature, film, music, the Internet, databases, and much more. Unfortunately, these institutions of information have started to lose their appeal as e-books and streaming services grow in popularity. While some public libraries have recently closed their doors, this New Jersey librarian has made it his mission to transform this mundane municipal organization and reinvent its role in the community.
Jeffrey Trzeciak is the latest director and library change agent of the Jersey City Free Public Library. Since being appointed 14 months ago, Trzeciak’s unique leadership style has not only helped this public library survive the COVID-19 pandemic, it has helped them thrive. To achieve such remarkable success, Trzeciak needed to make some bold changes to the Jersey City Free Public Library system. For instance, he approached the library like a business, running the organization much like an important Fortune 500 company. His entrepreneurial spirit allowed Trzeciak to successfully steer the institution through the unprecedented financial times of 2020.
Generating a supportive, inspiring work environment was also an integral part of Trzeciak’s plan to reimagine JC libraries. Library employees boast about his affable personality—he is the antithesis of the stereotypical stuffy librarian. Every day, Trzeciak encourages his staff to be creative, take risks, problem-solve, and proudly stand for what they believe in. This small change has transformed the library greatly, making it into a welcoming setting for both staff and patrons.
Beyond the library, Trzeciak is also immensely passionate about engaging with the diverse community of Jersey City; discussing issues of importance and providing support for its residents is of utmost importance to him. In 2021, Trzeciak’s top priority for the library is to stand in the fight against systemic racism. In order to achieve this noble goal, Trzeciak is organizing programs, events, and educational initiatives both internally and externally.
Additionally, he is working with staff to continue to offer essential youth service programs and virtual events to JC locals. In an effort to become a hub for safe socialization, the library held more than 1,200 virtual events in 2020; nearly 75,000 people attended these programs which ranged from traditional storytelling and read-aloud sessions to dance classes and movie nights.
While this public library is more than just a building with books, it continues to store an abundance of novels. For more than 120 years, this Hudson county public library system has been a cornerstone of information for New Jersey residents and houses some of the oldest books in the state. Recently, the library received its one-millionth book in-house, officially making the Jersey City Free Public Library the largest public library in the Garden State. Published in 1765, “The History of the Colony of Nova-Caesaria, or New Jersey” was printed in Burlington, New Jersey by James Parker, the state’s first printer, who used a press belonging to Benjamin Franklin. Check out the latest addition to the Jersey City Free Public Library’s extensive historical collection today.
To learn more about the work that the Jersey City Free Public Library is doing, visit their website.
Main photo via Jersey City Free Public Library.