National Library Week (April 3-9) is an annual celebration highlighting the role of libraries, librarians, and library workers and the role they play in transforming lives and strengthening communities. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Connect With Your Library,” a fitting motif to showcase the tireless efforts of library staff throughout the state of New Jersey to strengthen connections with their communities during the pandemic and offer services in safe, convenient, and creative ways.
Throughout New Jersey, libraries pivoted to provide curbside services, lend out internet hotspots (meeting workplace and school needs), enhanced digital collections to satisfy increased demand and stepped up to provide online reference services and virtual programming. This nimble response enabled libraries to stay connected with their communities and support ongoing learning and leisure activities. While the pandemic may have triggered many of these new services, many of them will remain in place long after the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
National Library Week is a wonderful time to reflect on the connections we have with our colleagues, our communities, and our stakeholders. Following two years during which we spent a lot of time apart, libraries and library workers have played such an essential role in providing support and opportunities for us all to learn more about ourselves and each other, pursue dreams, and strengthen relationships.
One new service beginning this year and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is NJHealthConnect @Your Library. This program is administered by New Jersey State Library and implemented at East Brunswick Public Library. NJHealthConnect @ Your Library will serve as a statewide hub to promote health equity by disseminating iPads to partner libraries that will be used to connect NJ residents to telemedicine and to provide access to multilingual health information. Most importantly it features a team of certified consumer health librarians at East Brunswick Public Library who will facilitate and train New Jersey librarians to implement telehealth programs in their communities.
Libraries are places where communities connect — to things like broadband, computers, programs and classes, books, movies, video games, and more. But most importantly, libraries connect us to each other
This week, we celebrate all libraries, especially New Jersey’s libraries, as the most used and most trusted community centers and knowledge resources. We celebrate our library workers as heroes and heroines, who navigate our residents everyday, to meet their needs. Our libraries are used by all, for all of life’s needs.
Here in New Jersey, libraries have made strides in keeping their connections to their communities in spite of many different obstacles, from illness to floods. This April, we certainly have a lot to celebrate. Join in the celebration by encouraging your community to join, visit, and advocate for your library.
Kate Jaggers, President, New Jersey Libraries Association
Juliet Machie, Executive Director, New Jersey Libraries Association
Molly Shannon, Spokesperson, 2022 National Library Week