Jersey City renames main public library after director who retired after 50 years of service

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The City of Jersey City renamed their main public library after longtime director Priscilla Gardner this morning, who recently retired after serving in the post for 50 years.

The City of Jersey City named their free public library after Priscilla Gardner (right), who recently retired after 50 years of service. Photo via JCLibrary.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“After 50 years of dedicated and meaningful service to our City, it is fitting that the main library be named in honor of Priscilla and all of her hard work,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“The Jersey City Free Public Library is a valuable resource in our community, and Priscilla created a community that opened doors for people who may not otherwise have had access to books and other educational resources. The impact she has made on our City will last a lifetime.”

Having most recently served as Library Director, Gardner began her career as a junior library assistant in 1969.

Eventually, she became the library’s first African American director in 2002. She spent 30 years working at Miller Branch Library, serving as Branch Head there from between 1987 and 1999.

“While I am beyond grateful the Mayor has chosen to recognize me, I simply worked to serve as the best library director for our community and never imagined being recognized in this way,” Gardner added.

“I am excited to start this new chapter in my life, but am also thankful for the change we have been able to create in Jersey City. It is my hope that the work I started lives on, and the Jersey City community continues to have endless access to free resources through the Jersey City Free Public Library.”

Gardner established the Jersey City Free Public Library Foundation in 2004 to raise funds for capital improvements to the Library and to support Library services and programs.

Under her leadership, the Foundation made critical contributions to the Library, expanding the resources offered to Jersey City residents.

“I am happy to see Priscilla Gardner receiving this honor for her 50 years of dedicated service to the public library and Jersey City,” exclaimed state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31).

“I am sure Glenn is beaming with pride for his adopted sister.”

Gardner ensured every resident of Jersey City had full access to all of the JCFPL’s free resources. Notably, as a result of her ongoing Library Card Drive, the number of cardholders has risen from 30,000 in 2002 to more than 246,000 today.

In light of her retirement, Jersey City has set forth on a national search for a new public Library Director.

The new library director will oversee the historic Main Library on Jersey Avenue, as well as six regional branches, three neighborhood branches and a Bookmobile, with a wide variety of programming for children and adults.