East Orange Public Library Highlights African American Male Library Staffers During National Library Day

Left to right: Rashond Smith, Reference Librarian, Chris Henry, System Administrator, Kern Roberts, Technical Assistant, Matthew Powell, Coordinator, Public Relations, LaMar Clark, Library Assistant

EAST ORANGE, NJ - As a community resource, libraries are invaluable. On April 11, The East Orange Public Library (EOPL) and The American Library Association invited the community of the City of East Orange to show their appreciation for a most valued resource—library workers—on “National Library Day” during the near 60-year-old event, National Library Week (April 9-15). The countrywide event aimed to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries, librarians, and promote library use and support. 

The East Orange Public Library (EOPL) nestled within the heart of the vibrant urban City of East Orange, NJ takes particular pride in its library staff for this event. In honor of their service to the library and community at large, the EOPL highlighted an integral contingent of its staff; its male workers of African descent. The current evolution of libraries continue to combat the stigmas of yesterday. Lively programs for all ages replace hushed open spaces. On demand online databases render archaic print card catalogs obsolete. Even the stereotyped persona of a librarian as a scowling, silence-driven enforcer has evolved into a friendly, inviting, customer-service driven member of the community. 

For Rashond Smith, a 20-year library veteran and one of the few African American librarians in the country, his duty as a reference librarian is a position of pride. “I enjoy helping people through providing accurate and relevant information,” said Smith. “Being in an environment with patrons’ minds actively studying and gathering significant information.” Smith affirms the library is “more than just books” as a stereotype perpetuates, but rather “a trending, vibrant hub that is about providing pertinent information and outstanding service.” As an active participant in community outreach, Smith tours the East Orange School District and its career day programs to promote literacy and inform students of the prospects of being a librarian.

Sign Up for E-News

In its vision of outreach, the EOPL appointed it new Coordinator of Public Relations and Community Outreach, and alumni of the East Orange School District, Matthew Powell to help guide its image. “It is a privilege to return to East Orange in a professional capacity,” said Powell “It is interesting to see the advances the library has made since my days as a student.” With unique cultural programs and the immensely-popular annual comic/anime convention, TOSHO-Con, Powell remains eager to promote the library to the community. “There is something for everyone here whether it’s a program or a resource,” said Powell. “We are an all-inclusive entity with excellent customer service as our driving force.”

Profound customer service is paramount to a library garnering a strong relationship with its patrons and the key focus for dual 11-year staff members Library Assistant LaMar Clark and Library Associate Dwayne Holman. “Having patience and being able to relate to people,” said Clark regarding his strategy in his interactions with patrons for over a decade. In his time, Clark notes the diversity of programs as an influencer in bringing people into the library. For Holman, a resident of East Orange totaling 40 years, cites the technological advances of the library as a vital resource for the patrons he interacts with. “The growth of technology makes it more accessible for patrons looking for resources,” said Holman.  A personal approach to assisting patrons is especially rewarding for Holman. “I enjoy helping someone with their resume in order to get a job,” said Holman. 

The public utilizes EOPL’s abundant supply of over 70 computers to run the spectrum of tasks. From updating social media statuses to updating a resume, EOPL’s technological infrastructure is of huge importance to the community. For System Administrator, Chris Henry maintaining the virtual network for his hometown in nothing short of a privilege. “It’s exciting to work in the city I live in,” said Henry “I enjoy working with my people.” As an alumni of East Orange Campus High, the dutiful Henry cites the East Orange School District as a contributor in focusing his interest in information technology hopes to give back one day. “It would be a dream doing IT for [The East Orange School District],” said Henry.  

Another key influencer to maintaining the library’s IT infrastructure is EOPL’s Technical Assistant of six years, Kern Roberts. Roberts is an alumni of the historic East Orange High School’s final graduating class of 2002. His interest in information technology sparked in high school and as an adult he remained enthusiastic to share his expertise with the public library of his youth. “After graduating high school, I went to the military, [and following my duty] I came back here with no hesitation,” said Roberts. “Information technology is my passion.” Roberts firmly believes EOPL is a community center evidenced by the swarms of patrons utilizing various terminals to access and relay information daily. “People come here to socialize,” said Roberts. This does not come as a surprise with the current evolution of libraries coupled with the rich arts and music culture infusing East Orange for decades. In discussion of the future of libraries, Roberts reveals he would like to see a space designed for music enthusiasts to create and learn within his library. A centralized music hub could be a mutual investment between the library and the cultivation of artistic expression among the community’s youth and young adult contingents. “Your greatest resource are the people in the community,” said Roberts. “If you invest in them, they will invest in you.”

Most notably what these men have in common is their dedication to community service. With intimate knowledge of the community and its continued progression, these men continue to tirelessly work towards a future to inspire their community and the young men within.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

East Orange/Orange

Essex County Freeholders Designate March 2018 as “American Red Cross Month”

March 18, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the American Red Cross during a presentation held at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) in South Orange, New Jersey.

District 4 Freeholder Leonard M. Luciano and President of the Board, Freeholder At-Large Brendan W. Gill, presented a Commendation to Jocelyn Gilman, Executive Director of American Red Cross Northern ...

PSE&G to Upgrade Aging Gas Pipes in East Orange

March 15, 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ – Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) will be working in East Orange to replace a little over 2 miles of old gas pipes with new piping – ensuring a continued safe, clean and reliable gas system well into the future. Beginning in mid-March work will take place Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., and some Saturdays weather ...

Types and Formats of Content You Need

We’ve talked about the buyer’s journey through awareness, consideration, and decision making, as well as the types of content you need to accomplish your goals. But, let’s go over it again to make sure that everything is really clear.

Buyer’s Journey and Content Needed:


This is the stage where the buyer knows they have a problem and a need that needs to ...

Types of Content Buyers Need to Make a Buying Decision

The third stage of the buyer’s journey is decision-making time. This is when they make their choice and act on that choice to buy your product or service. 

Often this type of content will consist of case studies, product comparisons, product literature, vendor comparisons, trial subscriptions or downloads, and live demonstrations. You might include pros and cons, product reviews, ...

Types of Content Buyers Need to Choose Your Product or Service

At this stage, buyers are seeking a solution. They need help deciding how best to solve their problem. The content in this stage should focus on helping them decide what criteria they need to consider when buying. What options are available? Which features do they need in order to fix their problem?

You can pack a lot of information and value into this stage through sharing ebooks or guides, ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, March 20, 12:30 PM

East Orange Senior Center, East Orange

East Orange Senior Center Hosts Indoor Golf ...

Health & Wellness


Tue, March 20, 2:00 PM

East Orange City Hall, East Orange

Put Your Best FORK Forward

Health & Wellness


Tue, March 20, 6:00 PM

K-Kakes Cakery, South Orange

CASA for Children of Essex County Free ...

Giving Back Law & Justice

Komen North Jersey Pink Tie Party Set For March 16

March 9, 2018

SUMMIT, NJ - The annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Pink Tie Party fundraiser affair is coming up.

The event, which will be held Friday, March 16 at The Grove in Cedar Grove, is focused on raising funds to support Komen’s BOLD GOAL:  to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50% by the year 2026, by improving access to quality and ...