With a great card comes great responsibility. That’s what every child learns the moment he receives his first library card, which has tremendous “buying” power to try on “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or even book a trip aboard “The Magic Schoolbus.”
For the past 15 years, Weehawken Library has invited the district’s first- through sixth-grade classes to receive their first library card, learn about the departments, databases, and programs available at the library, and get a chance to check out a book or two.
It’s not an introduction lost on Weehawken children. They “sell out” popular library programs with lightning speed, and frequent the facilities in search of Japanese comics like “Manga” or “anything graphic novel-created,” said librarian and Assistant Director Kelly Fitzgerald.
And with two very popular library months approaching, February’s Black History Month and Read Across America in March, the library expects increased participation.
Meet the staff
Fitzgerald started working at the Weehawken library 18 years ago, when she was in high school. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she decided that she wanted to become a librarian, and pursued a master’s degree in library science. After achieving her degree in 2002, she began working at the Weehawken Library as the librarian.
To Fitzgerald, the most rewarding aspect of her job is “just knowing that I’m helping someone find the information they’re looking for,” she said. “That makes me happy, because they’re happy.”
Working with the children, too, is a rewarding experience.
“When we do children’s programs, and I see the kids leave and they’re telling their parents what a great time they had, that makes me happy, too.”
Phil Greco is the director of the Weehawken Library, responsible for taking care of all the daily management of the library.
For him, he also says “seeing the children get so excited about our programs” is his favorite aspect of the job.
Technology beyond library limits
Each month, new cardholders come in, said Fitzgerald, to use the resources and 18 computers that the library has to offer. New computers were purchased last year, with the newest version of Windows and Microsoft Office.
“We try to stay as current as we can with technology,” Fitzgerald said.
The library’s databases, especially helpful for research projects, can be accessed from school or home with a library card.
Also, the library will soon feature a new job and career search database as soon as the staff is fully trained on its operation. The new database is in recognition of the current economic climate, which has led more and more adults to use the library’s computers to compose resumes and job applications.
Programming at the library targets children of all ages, from six months to 18, and program ideas are conceived by Fitzgerald, Donna Morris, and Kate McMahon of the Weehawken Recreation Department.
Two of the most popular programs for the younger age set are the Circle Time and Storytime programs, which tend to get filled up very quickly, with many more placed on waiting lists.
Greco speaks highly of Donna Morris, who heads the Storytime program that features interaction between her and a talking tree.
“She is very creative,” he said. “The children are so enthused with her.”
The library also features book clubs for children ages 5 through 18, as well as a summer reading program from the end of June through mid August.
Another popular program is the Monthly Artist of the World program, in which children learn about an artist and produce their own artwork.
“We receive on a daily basis a lot of compliments on our service, and that’s what’s foremost in our minds,” Greco said. “Every day we come to work and we want to do the best we can for our patrons.”
Weehawken is gearing up for two of its busiest months.
February, which is the month of the Chinese New Year and Black History Month, will feature holiday-themed programming.
A month later, March will mark the return of perhaps the most popular reading program, “Read Across America,” in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
Deanna Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.