Robert Czaja of Scotch Plains was honored Thursday evening, October 4th, at the Elizabeth Public Library by LUCC (Libraries of Union County Consortium) as the Volunteer of the Year for Union County Libraries. Bob Czaja was nominated by Meg Kolaya, Scotch Plains Public Library Director, for his outstanding contributions to the library as an active member and leader of the Friends of the Library over the past decade.

Bob is a mainstay of the Scotch Plains Friends of the Library.  He  has faithfully volunteered for all aspects of the organization from delivering books and tapes to the home-bound to the less glamorous jobs such as tying up recycling to maintaining several sections of non-fiction as a devoted “adopt a Shelf” program volunteer. He has diligently helped the organization become a 501c3 through many hours of paperwork and phone calls, and he has taken an informal group of good-hearted volunteers to a tightly run and ambitious fund-raising arm of the public library.

As President, Bob was a humble but powerful leader who managed to recruit a mighty core of volunteers and guided them to successful fundraising. The annual book sale in March raises over $10,000 from donated books and tapes. These funds help the library bring a full year of programs for all ages to the public. This past year Friends money also added e-book readers for the public and a popular Museum Pass program.

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The Director said “I can call on Bob to help with any task. He has just completed a monumental effort putting new shelf parts throughout the library and shifting the massive non-fiction collection. He never complains, even when the work is heavy and laborious. While others also volunteer, Bob is the type of volunteer who sees the “other stuff” that needs to be done. After the sale is over, he is the person who finds other charitable organizations to take the leftovers and brings all the recycled materials out to the street on the proper day. He goes out of his way to make our lives better.”

In his “spare time”, Bob is a devoted volunteer up in the Watchung Reservation, clearing trails and trees and also volunteers at a local hospital. He optimizes the perfect volunteer…somebody who wants to make his community a better place and is uncomfortable taking any glory or credit for his work.

Many members of the Friends of the Scotch Plains Public Library, staff and family members attended the ceremony at the newly revitalized Elizabeth Public Library, joining Trustees and legislators from the surrounding communities for this program.