Library Card Sign Up Month at JC Free Public Libraries

August 25, 2016 Mel Kozakiewicz


September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, and the Jersey City Free Public Libraries are ready for new members.

Cunningham Branch Head Mary Quinn sees September’s Library Card Drive as a chance to encourage parents, as well as the children, to learn and love what a library can offer. “Going to the library is a key to your future. It’s important to have for doing school homework, and for fun reading. Having a library card is an opportunity to instill in children a love for reading – the earlier, the better, when getting a library card.”

Getting a library card isn’t difficult – parents just need to bring their personal photo ID, as well as proof of residency. That covers getting their own library cards (in case the parent needs one) and an individual library card for each child.

“It is important for both the parent and the child to understand that the child is responsible for his or her library card – including the fines, and cost for a lost or stolen card. Essentially, that means a record develops under the child’s name, which is carried throughout the years,” said Michele Dupey, Public Information Officer of the Jersey City Free Public Library.

Children’s Librarian Francina Stevens of the Bonetti Children’s Room at the Main Library agrees, reminding each new library card holder (both parent and child) that “A library card teaches responsibility. It is your first piece of plastic – so, take care of it!”

To add to the excitement, Jersey City children who head over to the Bonetti Children’s Room inside the Main Library (472 Jersey Avenue) for their new cards can look forward to receiving a bag of library goodies upon signing up.

But libraries aren’t just for children anymore. In an age of digital content, the library has taken significant strides to meet this new demand. The first digital source to add to library collections was in 2009, which offers a large array of audiobook and ebooks, and currently is the most popular digital lending collection.

Jersey City Free Public Library Bookmobile

Jersey City Free Public Library Bookmobile

In addition, the Jersey City Free Public Library began offering the Rosetta Stone immersive-language program in mid-July 2016, which was provided and funded by the New Jersey State Library. Other library-lending digital programs got off the ground this year too: Zinio for Libraries (popular magazines), OneClickdigital (ebooks of the classics) and hoopla digital (a multiple digital platform, offering TV, music, movies, ebooks and more), as well as the Jersey City library partnership with Foundation Center, offering Foundation Directory Online – the premier source for grant-making research.

Impressed? Many of these programs (Zinio for Libraries, OneClickdigital, hoopla digital, and the Foundation Center’s membership) have been paid by the Jersey City Free Public Library Foundation, Inc., a charitable, tax-exempt organization founded in 2004 by Library Director Priscilla Gardner to generate funds for library capital improvements.

The first project undertaken by the Library Foundation was the complete funding (over $222,000 – none of which was taxpayer money) of the custom-designed and built Bookmobile, which has been on the road since May of 2008.

The second major Library Foundation project was the funding of security cameras at the Main Library, all branch buildings and most recently, the Bookmobile.

Currently, the Main Library renovations have been the focus of the Library Foundation, as have various smaller projects which contribute to the Jersey City library digital collections.

Celebrating Dr. Suess's Birthday at the Bonetti Children's Room in the Main Library

Celebrating Dr. Suess’s Birthday at the Bonetti Children’s Room in the Main Library

The ability of the Library Foundation to fund digital collections is just one important way that libraries have changed. As a budgetary rule, libraries have acquisitions lines, which purchase the library materials most considered to populate a library: books, CDs, DVDs, and historically, vinyl records and audiotapes for recorded music and books. But as technology has changed, collections became less tangible, meaning that there isn’t an actual book (or codex, in the formal vernacular) purchased, or other 3-dimensional object that transmits the recording.

Instead, today’s recordings are digital, and rented as opposed to purchased. In short, they don’t exist on the shelf. Which means that if funding is not available, neither are digital recordings. This is where the Library Foundation picks up the financial slack.

“I cannot stress how important libraries are,” says Library Director Priscilla Gardner. “Where else can you get so much information, for free? Our digital collections now make the Jersey City library open, 24/7 – for the convenience and enjoyment of all valid library card members. It’s the best bargain in town!”

More information on Jersey City Free Public Library programming is available at To contribute to the Library Foundation, click here. 

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