MAPLEWOOD, N.J. --  “I always wanted to do something with books and the public,” said Sarah Lester, the new director of the Maplewood Public Library. 

As director, Lester ensures that both of the Maplewood Public Library sites are equipped to accommodate the needs of all residents. She started her job Jan. 1.

“In a public library, we need to be able to meet the needs of the public’s wide variety of skill levels,” added Lester, who is a Maplewood resident .   

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According to 2011 statistics, more than 900 residents visit the libraries each day. 

“I want to continue the great work that has already been started,” Lester said. “I would also really like to make it a thriving community center, with more dynamic programing, especially for adults, to bring different people into the library.”

The libraries’ calendar for February is filled with events geared toward Maplewood residents of all ages in honor of Black History Month, such as Saturday Story Time and Black Fiction Book Talk.     

In addition to making the library more of a community center, Lester said that as director, she would really like to transform the Maplewood libraries into “real technology centers.”  Lester would like the library to be a place where people could use the libraries’ books, databases and other online resources for pleasure and also as a job resource. 

A graduate of Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree from San Jose State University in library science, Lester previously held positions as branch manager in the New York Public Library System and in San Francisco. As branch manager, she oversaw many projects, including the building of a new library in San Francisco.

Lester’s most recent position prior to accepting the Maplewood position was as the library director in Nutley. 

“I met some librarians early on who changed my perception of what a library could be,” Lester said.

Alexandra Lubischer is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.