The Long Branch Free Public Library has been awarded the 2020 NJSL Innovation Award for its continued commitment to building strong partnerships with government agencies, local organizations and the businesses community.
This prestigious annual award recognizes hard-working public libraries and their staffs for laying the groundwork for successful community coalition-building and carefully targeted programming, exemplifying the essential role that libraries plays in the lives of residents across the state.
The Long Branch Free Public Library was awarded for its continued commitment to building strong partnerships with fellow government agencies, local organizations and the businesses community, including the Grow with Google partnership and the Fresh Start Reentry Initiative created in Long Branch – which is now statewide!.
On December 4, 2019, the Grow with Google tour made a stop in New Jersey as part of an ongoing initiative to provide free training, tools, and resources for public libraries in all 50 states. Job seekers, small business owners, library staffs, librarians and nonprofit leaders gathered at the Long Branch Free Public Library for digital skills workshops and one-on-one coaching. Instructors shared with attendees how to leverage Google products and services to enhance their work. Visiting Google presenters and coaches joined Long Branch Mayor John Pallone and New Jersey-local YouTube creator Laura Vitale at the Long Branch event.
In 2009, the Long Branch Free Public Library created Fresh Start as a service to meet the needs of its community and to break the cycles of recidivism. Library Director Tonya Garcia conceived the idea of providing library support services for citizens returning from prison to local communities. Based on the success of this innovative community program, in June 2019, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the New Jersey State Library with a National Leadership Grant, totaling $628,774. The New Jersey State Library, in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, adopted the reentry program, and expanded it to include six participating libraries in New Jersey.
New Jersey public libraries lead the way in promoting the essential role that library programming plays in building community engagement and individual empowerment. As community anchor institutions, libraries are uniquely positioned to address the various needs of the communities they serve. These winning programs exemplify the essential ways libraries fulfill their role as community centers of cultural and civic engagement.