"A Free Public Library": Interview and Conversation with Jeffrey Trzeciak

50 years ago on June 28th, newspapers reported an unexpected act of resistance at a mafia-run bar on Christopher Street in New York City. The several days of protest and demonstration that ensued are collectively known as the Stonewall Riots. They marked a turning point in the Gay Rights and Liberation Movement. It is also why June is celebrated worldwide as Pride Month. So, what does Pride Month mean? In the words of the Human Rights Campaign, Pride Month is the only occasion where people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer, or any type of sexual or gender minority can be out and proud in their community. Therefore, Pride festivals and parades that occur during the month celebrate the progress the LGBT community has made, but also recognize the distance this community still has to go to achieve full equality. This episode is the first of two episodes in our series celebrating Pride Month in Newark by highlighting the achievements and stories of the LGBTQI+ members of the Newark community.

When the Newark Public Library opened its doors in 1887, it did so with the goal of being much more than a repository of books available for lending to the public. Jeffrey Trzeciak, the current director, seeks to continue this mission by furthering the library’s programming and amenities to be more accessible to a wider swath of the Newark community. For example, Jeffrey, as well as the staff at the library, has focused on increasing LGBTQI+ awareness. This has included the opening of the LGBTQ Resource Center at the Library and the holding of Drag Queen Story Hours. and Drag Queen Bingo The library has also increased its services for the homeless, who often frequent the space, by hiring an on-site social worker and updating/renovating its restrooms. This episode, Jeffrey discusses all these changes occurring at the library and more.

Guest:

Jeffrey Trzeciak—Jeffrey is the Director of the Newark Public Library, which oversees the Main Library on Washington Street and seven branches across the city. Aside from his administrative duties in keeping the system running, he runs the Director’s Blog and has emphasized making the library a more inclusive space. This is no surprise. Jeffrey has spent his 30 year career in library management and information technology focusing on social justice and championing civil rights, particularly in the fields of race and LGBT liberation, as well other issues facing urban libraries. On top of that, he and his husband are active Newark residents, living in the North Ward.

Articles & Background:

  • The Newark Public Library’s Official Website: here

  • The Library’s Calendar of Events: here

  • The Director’s Blog: here

  • Newark LGBTQ Community Center Official Website: here

  • TapInto Article on the Opening of the Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center: here

  • New York Times Article on Drag Time Story Hours Across the Country: here

End Quote:

“Prior: I’m almost done.—The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter, ice in the pipes. But in the summer it’s a sigh to see. I want to be around to see it. I plan to be. I hope to be.—This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come now.—Bye now.—You are fabulous creatures, each and every one.—And I bless you: More Life.—The Great Work Begins.”—Angels in America: Perestroika, Tony Kushner, Epilogue