Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce cites public service 

MANALAPAN, NJ – The Monmouth County Library is the 2012 recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award, given each year by the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. The library received the award in the “Public Service” category.

The Circle of Excellence Award reflects the Greater Monmouth Chamber’s annual search for outstanding contributions to the community. The award has in six categories and can be given to individuals and organizations.

This year’s Public Service award is designed to boost public awareness of the wide range of services and programs offered to the community by the Monmouth County Library, according to the Chamber. An awards dinner was held June 7 at the Battleground Country Club in Manalapan.

Accepting the award for the library were Renee B. Swartz, chairwoman of the Monmouth County Library Commission, and Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the county library system.

Swartz has chaired the Library Commission since 1976 and also serves as chairwoman 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 this 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 county residents and is the resource that touches us all for lifelong learning, access to information and for recreation. Its doors are open wide to afford us all the opportunity to reach the American Dream.” 

Burry, a former Monmouth County Library commissioner, has been the liaison to the Monmouth County Library System since she began serving on the 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,” Burry said. “In these challenging times, the library has become an increasingly 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 just a few. As we say, the library is more than just books.

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, Swartz said.

In recognition of the award, Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone presented Burry and Swartz with a proclamation from the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
"We all should be proud of our county library system because it is among the best – if not the best – in the state,” Arnone said. “A lot of that has to do with the steady oversight the library has received over the years through the efforts of its library commissioners and its executive director, Renee Swartz.

“We can’t praise the Library System without also praising Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, who served as a commissioner and now serves as the library’s liaison to the Board of Chosen Freeholders,” Arnone continued. “Together, Freeholder Burry, Renee Swartz, and the library commissioners past and present should be commended for their ability throughout the years to make learning fun and exciting, and for bringing us new opportunities to access the world of literature, knowledge and lifelong learning.”

Library Director Kenneth Sheinbaum praised his staff for making the Library Headquarters the busiest public library building in New Jersey.

“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 a 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. In 2011, the Library logged about 3 million visits throughout its branches and circulated nearly 4 million items. 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 given to this institution.”

For more information on the Monmouth County Library, please visit