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Library Commission Chair Renee B. Swartz named Community Champion of the Arts

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Identity at Eastern Branch
Congratulations to Monmouth County Library Commission Chair Renee B. Swartz, who was just named Community Champion of the Arts by the Monmouth County Arts Council!

Ms. Swartz was named Community Champion of the Arts in recognition of her support of the teen artists of the Monmouth Teen Arts Festival. The award was given both for the acquisition of the Identity Art Installation at the Eastern Branch Library, and the ongoing efforts to promote teen education initiatives within the Monmouth County Library System.

The Monmouth County Library acquired Identity in January. The collage of 12 canvases individually painted and lettered was created at the 2012 Teen Arts Festival, sponsored by the Arts Council in collaboration with Brookdale Community College. The collage had been displayed throughout 2012 at the Eastern Branch Library and now will part of the Library's permanent collection.

The Monmouth County Arts Council established the Arts Education Awards to honor those individuals, schools, administrators and organizations that support great arts education and the Arts Council's mission of enriching the community by inspiring and fostering the arts.

Monmouth County Library receives funds to restore Oceanport branch

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The Monmouth County Library has received an insurance settlement of $283,704 to restore the collection of library materials to the Oceanport branch, which was heavily damaged during Superstorm Sandy.oceanport

The insurance settlement was secured through the Monmouth County Department of Insurance and Risk Management. The $283,704 settlement will be used to order new books, periodicals, DVDs, and CDs to replace those lost in the storm, according to Renee B. Swartz, Monmouth County Library Commission Chair.

"Our Oceanport branch suffered the loss of its entire collection and has been closed since Sandy struck at the end of October," Swartz said. "The Commission is committed to the re-opening of the library as soon as possible for Oceanport residents, who sorely miss their library and its services."

It is hoped the refurbished Library branch can re-open sometime in late April, Swartz said.

Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library System, said she is pleased with the insurance settlement for the Oceanport branch, and praised the Selective Insurance Group and The Dittmar Agency for their diligent work on the matter.

"The insurance settlement not only allows us to recoup the collection for Oceanport, it is vital to the re-opening of the library," Burry said. "In addition, Library staff at other branches have pulled together to find another 3,000 replacement items for Oceanport. We know how important the library is to the Oceanport community and we hope to have it back up and running very soon."


Come see a "home-grown Picasso" at the Eastern Branch Library!

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The Monmouth County Library Commission takes great pleasure in announcing the Library will acquire Identity, an art collage created by teen artists from the Monmouth County Arts Council, to add to the Library's permanent art collection.

"The Library as a community anchor, a gathering place to sharpen our educational experience and a platform for creativity, is acquiring Identity, an artwork created by Monmouth County teen artists that speaks of joy, of youth, of energy and of imagination," said Renee B. Swartz, Monmouth County Library Commission Chair. "Come enjoy this home-grown Picasso now on permanent display at Eastern Branch and feel enriched by its inspiration!"

"The Library has been a staunch supporter of the Monmouth Arts Council and its Teen Arts Festival, and we are pleased to give Identity a permanent home," said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Library. "The core theme of Identity is 'Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.' And it's encouraging to see the creativity and imagination and the talent of our teen artists on display." 

Identity has been on display to the enjoyment and delight of patrons at the Eastern Branch Library in Shrewsbury for most of the past year, and the Eastern Branch will now have the artwork on permanent display.

Watch our video and read on for more:


Monmouth County Library awarded Circle of Excellence Public Service honor

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lillianburryThe Monmouth County Library is honored to be the recipient of the 2012 Circle of Excellence Award, given each year by the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. The Library received the award for the category "Public Service."

The Circle of Excellence Award represents the Chamber's annual search for outstanding contributions to the community.  The award is given in six categories and can be given to both individuals and organizations.

The Public Service award is designed to foster a public awareness of the wide range of services and programs offered to the community by the Monmouth County Library, according to the Chamber. The awards dinner will be held on Thursday, June 7 at the Battleground Country Club in Manalapan.

Accepting the award for the Library will be Renee B. Swartz, chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission, and Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library.reneephoto0408

Swartz has chaired the Library Commission since 1976, and also serves as chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book (an affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress). She was recently named the 2012 New Jersey Library Champion by the New Jersey State Library.

"It is with great pride that the Monmouth County Library accepts the Circle of Excellence Award for Public Service from the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce," Swartz said. "The Library, as the community and cultural center of the county, has as its mission to enrich the quality of life of the residents here in our great county and is the resource that touches us all for lifelong learning, for information access and for recreation. Its doors are always open wide to afford us all the opportunity to reach the 'American Dream.'" 

Freeholder Burry, a former Monmouth County Library Commissioner, has been the liaison to the Monmouth County Library System since she first began serving on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2006.

"I'd like to thank the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce for recognizing the fine services that our Library and its staff members provide," Freeholder Burry said.  "In these challenging times, the Library has increasingly become a vital part of the lives of Monmouth County residents. At the library you can find computer classes, help with your income tax preparation, English language instruction, seminars for first-time homeowners, workshops for SAT preparation, and resources for jobseekers, to name but a few. As we say, the Library is more than just books."

Swartz noted that from its modest beginnings in 1923 in the basement of the Hall of Records with 8,500 books, through the years of reliance on a bookmobile to circulate items, the Monmouth County Library has grown to encompass 13 branches and

14 member libraries.

"I am honored and pleased that the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce has selected the Library for this award.  We are proud of the work of our staff that has made the Headquarters building the busiest public library building in New Jersey," said Kenneth Sheinbaum, director of the Library.

"But even more, it is satisfying to see how the public has validated our venture in a new kind of library service, one that is apparent in both the design of the building and in our approach to service," Sheinbaum said. "Here we have an alliance between the circulation of materials, both print and non-print, and extensive reference in a successful relationship with large scale event programming.  The combination has become more than the sum of its parts, and the Library has become more than storehouse.  It is a place to realize potential, revitalize life, and restore balance in difficult times."

More than 230,000 residents currently hold Monmouth County Library cards, and in 2011, the Library logged approximately 3 million visits throughout its branches. In 2011, the Library circulated nearly 4 million items, and more than 155,000 people attended 6,829 programs held throughout the 13 Library branches.

"We can only guess what the new way to be a library will mean for us and our customers, but we will do our best to provide what they must have to prosper," Sheinbaum said.  "We will evolve with our community, and I believe our ability to recognize need and to change and grow is really why the award has been made to this institution."

For more information on the Monmouth County Library, please visit our webpage at

Monmouth County Library Chair Renee B. Swartz named New Jersey Library Champion by the NJ State Library

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Renee B. SwartzRenee B. Swartz, Chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission and the New Jersey Center for the Book, a state affiliate of the Library of Congress, has been named the New Jersey Library Champion for 2012 by the New Jersey State Library.

Swartz, of Rumson, will receive the award during the New Jersey Library Association Conference in Atlantic City on June 6th.

"For over 46 years, Renee Becker Swartz has worked tirelessly to ensure that the importance of libraries, reading and literacy is fresh in the minds of elected officials and the general public," the award proclaims. The award goes on to commend Swartz for "her illustrious career, noteworthy accomplishments and meritorious service to her community, state and nation."

Swartz has been a member of the Monmouth County Library Commission since 1966 and the commission chair since 1976. She was the driving force in the construction of the Library's Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury and its Headquarters in Manalapan, which is the largest public library building in the state of New Jersey.

Under her guidance, the Monmouth County Library System has grown to encompass 13 branches and 14 member libraries, serving the information needs of almost 500,000 residents of Monmouth County.  She continues to champion innovative and educational programming throughout the Library System, spearheading a master plan review to move the Monmouth County Library System into 21st century initiatives and endorsing the expansion of its Teen and Young Adult Department.

On the state level, Swartz founded the New Jersey Center for the Book in 2000 (an affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress) and continues to serve as its chair. She has served as the Governor's Appointment to the New Jersey State Library Advisory Council since 1976; and was its chair from 1986-1991, and again from 1994 to present. Swartz has been on the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame since 1994 and for 22 years has served as Chair of the Program Associates, the Trustee Board of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.

On the national level, Swartz was a Presidential Appointee to the Institute of Museum and Library Services Board from 2004-2009, and is a continuing national member of the Board Emerita.  IMLS is the independent federal grant-making agency that fosters leadership, innovation, and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nation's 18,500 museums and 125,000 libraries through grants of over $22 million annually.

Swartz has chaired the New Jersey delegations to the 1979 and 1991 White House Conferences on Library and Information Services, and has served as the permanent New Jersey member of the White House Conference Task Force since 1979. She served on the American Library Association's Office of Information Technology Policy Advisory Board from 1995 to 1999. In 1991, she was selected by the American Library Association as the National Trustee of the Year.  In 2000 she was selected by the American Library Association as one of the one hundred most influential library leaders of the twentieth century.

She most recently served on Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton's Women in Politics Public Service Project and Colloquium, representing her alma mater, Barnard College, where she is a Trustee Emerita.

Her wisdom, leadership and foresight as a member and Chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission earned her a Lifetime Service and Achievement Award in 2006; two Trustee of the Year Awards from the NJ Library Association (1980, 1999) – the only trustee to receive that honor twice.

Quote from Renee Swartz:

"Online information sources, electronic books, and the yet unimagined and exciting new ways that will be devised to access both print and non-print media present an extraordinary challenge and an unparalleled opportunity for the library of the future.  I will continue to devote my time enthusiastically to the creation of tomorrow's libraries and to the life altering experiment in information delivery that our institutions and the people of New Jersey will experience together in the years to come."

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