ROXBURY, NJ — The Roxbury Public Library plans to use a recently received $5,000 grant to build a production studio to improve its remote programs, said director Radwa Ali.

The grant is one of two recently awarded to the library in recognition of “its innovative programming and commitment to serve” the public, according to a statement.

The $5,000 is a “COVID19 response grant” issued by the New Jersey Councils for the Humanities (NJCH). The library also received a $3,000 “Spotlight Award” from the American Library Association and the Public Library Association.

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“Now up and running for curbside service, the Roxbury Library has been a constant in the community during the stay-at-home mandates, offering virtual programs and assistance by phone during the pandemic,” the library noted.

It said it has served as “much more than a receptacle for books” and is now “a destination, even a virtual one,” for hundreds of people weekly.

Responding to the Shutdown

“This gift of $5,000 will go a long way in Roxbury,” said Ali.  “We’ve been offering virtual programs to our patrons since the third week of March. The grant allows us to create a production studio, giving us a more professional and expanded platform to curate virtual programs for our youth and adults.”

She said the library’s response to the pandemic displayed “what a public library should and can be,” noting that a “studio with up-to-date audio and video equipment allows us to program more professional events, especially at a time when we can’t host patrons in our building.”

With the $3,000 Spotlight Award, the library will expand its efforts to help people seeking jobs and trying to learn new digital skills, it said.

“Since the pandemic altered its operations in early March, Roxbury Library increased programming for jobseekers, which includes training in digital skills,” said the statement. 

The library hosted a series of four events in April on how to utilize Google apps for business efficiency and promotion. The series, “Grow with Google / Libraries Lead with Digital Skills,” was made possible through an original $1,000 grant from the library associations and became part of the Library’s Business Beyond Basics series in collaboration with the Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We had to give everyone a couple weeks to get comfortable with using Zoom, myself included,” noted Roxbury Public Library Program Coordinator Karen Cerreta.  “I am so very proud of how this community quickly adapted to virtual programming.  Even though we miss bringing everyone together for programs and services under the library’s roof, we’ve been able to gather virtually, providing an abundance of events, especially to job seekers, and fostering a cultural community of growth and togetherness.”

Videos of the programs are available on the Facebook pages of both the Roxbury Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce.

On July 29, the library and the Chamber will host “Power Your Job Search with Google Tools and individuals can register by clicking here.

“Roxbury Library has done exceptional work to support economic opportunity in their community,” said Roxbury Public Library Board of Trustees President Tracy Baltz. “This funding helps them continue to do this work on a longer-term basis.  In fact, the library is currently planning to use a portion of the grant to help with individual resume coaching.  Our hope is, especially during this difficult time, we can continue to support our patrons with superlative service.  This funding gives us the resources to expand and respond more quickly.”

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