WESTFIELD, NJ — Jennifer Schulze, the head of reference and adult services at Westfield Memorial Library, is a familiar face to anyone who frequents the library. With her warm smile and curly red hair, she seems to be everywhere at once—behind the circulation desk, introducing programs in the community space and manning the reference desk.
Jennifer and her twin sister, Allison, began their working lives delivering newspapers on their bicycles in the fifth grade. Schulze got her start in libraries at 14 working as a page at the Scotch Plains library, although her mother always thought she should be a flight attendant.
The Alternative Press: Tell us about your family and pets.
Schulze: I have a wonderful husband of just over 12 years, Will, and a sweet daughter, Heidi, who’s just months from turning 7. We love our little family of finches of different varieties—society finches, spice finches and zebra finches.
TAP: When did you come to Westfield Memorial Library and what positions have you held there?
Schulze: I came to Westfield in November 2002 to fill the position of head of adult services. In April 2006, I became the head of reference. Since April 2010, I have held the title as head of adult services, although the position has combined both the head of reference and head of adult services positions. Never a dull moment and the different positions have allowed me to see all the library’s facets over the years.
TAP: Where were you born and where did you grow up? Where were you schooled?
Schulze: I grew up in Scotch Plains and went to Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. I attended Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for my undergraduate degree in history, then Rutgers University for my masters in library science.
TAP : Where do you live now? How long have you lived there?
Schulze: I live in North Plainfield, and have lived there for the past 11 years.
TAP: Who is your favorite author?
Schulze: I don’t have a favorite—there are too many good ones! Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly are my favorite mystery authors. For fiction, there are Ken Follett, Edward Rutherford. My main interest lies in history, so Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Ellis and David McCullough are great historians with that unique ability to make serious topics very readable.
TAP: What are you reading now?
Schulze: “The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914” by Margaret McMillan.
TAP: What programs that you brought to the library are you most proud of?
Schulze: I’m proud of the mix of programs I have hosted here—musical performances, lectures, plays, author events and computer instruction. Rhonda Denet and Silver Fox Songs with Motown music, Karen Camden teaching computer and gardening classes. I try to offer different types of programs, such as creative workshops and educational lectures, so different types of people are drawn into the library. In the coming weeks we are going to host an evening of folk music with Spook Handy. On March 5 we will host a book discussion on Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
TAP: Where is the most exotic place you've ever traveled to? What place do you dream of traveling to?
Schulze: I traveled with friends to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. What a lovely and exciting trip. I loved it so much that my husband and I later went back to London, and popped into Paris for a day trip. Not what everyone would consider exotic, though. My whole life I have loved traveling, and one day I would love to travel to Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Japan … pretty much I desire to travel the whole world, all seven continents. I would also love to visit our own country’s national parks.
TAP: How do you spend your days off?
Schulze: Everything I don’t catch up on during a work day. Errands, grocery shopping, cleaning. I cannot wait ’til nicer weather hits and I’ll be able to play outside with my daughter after school.
TAP: What's something about you that almost no one knows?
Schulze: I’m part Welsh, part Irish and part German. But my father’s aunt, who was from Wales, and my father’s cousin on the Welsh side are the family members from whom I inherited my red hair. I’m also passionate about taking pictures of birds and butterflies—they are just amazing to see and, even with my simple camera, they are so photogenic.
Editor’s Note: “A Conversation with …” is a monthly series of question and answer articles with Westfield people.