SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Early this morning, Meg Kolaya, a beloved member of the Scotch Plains community passed away after enduring a two-year battle with brain cancer.
Kolaya served the community as Director of Scotch Plains Public Library from 2002 up until her retirement in 2015. During her tenure, she transformed the library into a hub of community activity, tripling program attendance and doubling daily circulation and the number of cardholders.
“She was so supportive of any idea that I came to her with,” said Michelle Willis, who worked with Meg for more than a decade before succeeding her as library director. “Over the years, we were able to ensure that we had state-of-the art programming for the children of our community.”
Originality and creativity were staples to Kolaya’s success.
“She allowed the people around her to be as creative and clever as they could be,” added Willis. “She knew that letting us be our creative selves that it would better our entire organization. I really appreciated that about her.”
“Having been (library director) for the last year and a half, it gives me a greater appreciation of all that Meg did,” said Willis.
Koloya was a pioneer for what has become a national movement towards inclusion of all community members through her pioneering efforts with “Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected” (www.librariesandautism.org). Under her leadership, the SPPL was the first library in New Jersey to host “Next Chapter Book Club” for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“She was really instrumental in transforming our library into a modern facility and making it a hub for community activity,” explained Willis, who said that both the number and attendance of library programs increased during Kolaya’s tenure. “Meg was very good at bringing grant money and programs.”
Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover echoed Willis' sentiments in his Letter to the Editor.
Using funding from INFOLINK, their regional library cooperative, Meg and Dan Weiss developed a website, a training video and embarked on a nation-wide training program, often speaking at library conferences. In 2009, Meg was presented with a national award by the American Library Association for her Libraries and Autism project. Kolaya’s legacy in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will continue to be felt by the autism communities through an annual $5,000 grant sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re connected.
Earlier in her professional career, she graduated from Bucknell with a BA in American History in 1969 and earned a Master’s Degree in Library Service and Information Studies at Rutgers in 1979. Meg’s library administration career began in 1983 as Head of the Library at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, NJ. In 1996, she moved on to serve as the Assistant Director for two years at The Rockwood Library in Livingston and then five years as director of the Clark Public Library. During her career, she held various positions at the New Jersey Library Association.
In March 2015, the Township of Scotch Plains hosted a retirement party in honor of the beloved librarian's longtime service to the community.