NEWARK, NJ - The Newark Public Library will distribute about 45,000 library cards to all students and staff in the Newark school district as part of a new partnership with the schools.

“In the digital age we are in, now more than ever is it critically important to foster and instill the love of reading in all of our children,” Superintendent Roger León said. “This partnership will help us do just that.” 

The Newark Public Library announced the partnership with the district Tuesday morning by handing out library cards to 30 third grade students from Elliott Street School.

Sign Up for Newark Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

A key strategy crucial to the success of NPS Clarity 2020, the district-library partnership aims to foster a culture of reading, learning, and exploration for Newark children, families, and staff.

Recognizing the importance of family and student wellbeing to a successful academic trajectory, León outlined Clarity 2020 to offer services for families starting during child conception. 

One of those initiatives is an intense focus on proficient literacy for students by grade three when students begin the transition from learning how to read into a stage where they are reading to learn.

Children who are not proficient readers by the third-grade struggle with completing high school within four years and are more likely to live in poverty as adults if they don’t finish. 

All third graders will have field trips to visit their local library this school year and learn about the resources available to them at the various branches. 

The district's 10-year plan, which is still in the process of being written, will include four extended classroom experiences for all Pre-K through 12th-grade students to visit their local library once during each marking period, said León.

In June, the district and library partnered with Mayor Ras Baraka to launch a city-wide youth book club to extend the mission of literacy beyond school walls. 

Reading is an important part of what the library does just as books are an important service the library provides, said Jeffrey Trzeciak, Director of the Newark Public Library. 

“We are an important tool in the city’s arsenal in terms of addressing the important issue of literacy,” said Trzeciak. 

The library has eight locations across the city - at least one in each ward - and staff who speak Spanish to make services more accessible. 

Growing up and visiting the local library was a great way to have a safe place to meet up with friends and do homework, said Melissa McSweeney,  a former English teacher and reading specialist turned mathematics coach at Elliott Street School.

“It helped me become a lover of reading,” said McSweeney. “I hope that it would make them visit the library and find reading they enjoy that would help them grow as readers."

A key piece of the partnership is the boosting district library systems to include Newark Public library resources. The two separate library systems will eventually merge into a singular system so students in schools can search in their own library and local branches simultaneously. 

Leah Garcia, a third-grader at Elliott Street School, was excited when her mother took her to get her first library card.

Mathematics is her favorite subject, but she loves reading chapter books and Greens Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. 

“I like reading because I get smarter from books,” said Leah, after sharing a story of her overfilled bookshelf. “I like libraries because they are so quiet and peaceful. I can’t wait to go to the library more.”