SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - After nearly 15 years of assisting patrons of the South Plainfield Public Library, Supervising Librarian Chris Grippo retired on October 30th. Refreshments and light snacks were served, and throughout the day, patrons stopped by to wish Grippo farewell.
Councilmen Bengivenga, White, Rusnak, Richkus and Council President Barletta were in attendance as well as the library employees, friends of the library and the board of trustees. Grippo was presented with a plaque for his 15 years of service by Library Board President, Darlene Cullen, Library Director Linda Hansen and Library Board Attorney and former board President, Eric Aronowitz.
Grippo first joined the South Plainfield Library in 2000 as a part-time librarian and two years later was named supervising librarian. Over the past decade and a half, he has run the circulation and reference desks as well as the library’s Mystery and Thursday Night book clubs and genealogical programs. Additionally, in 2012, Grippo began donating his time to organize and run a book club at the South Plainfield Senior Center, something he hopes to still continue even though he will no longer be working in the community.
“Chris has been a valuable asset to our library, both for his people skills and his professional knowledge. He takes a personal interest in each patron and has made many friends during his time at the reference desk,” said Linda Hansen, director of the South Plainfield Library.
Growing up in Farmingdale, Long Island, Grippo attended Holy Trinity High School before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and history from York College and a master in history from C.W. Post. He obtained a master’s degree in library service from the University of Arizona – Tucson and in 1988 began his library career as a head librarian in a teaching position at a Seattle middle school. In 1995, Grippo headed back east and worked as a librarian for the North Brunswick Public Library until joining South Plainfield in 2000. He currently resides in North Brunswick with his husband, Robert, who he married at Philadelphia City Hall this past August.
Over the course of his nearly 30-year library services career, Grippo has seen many changes – from the introduction of technology to the elimination of the card catalog. “In the mid-80s when I began my career as a librarian personal computers were just coming in, there was no Internet and we had a much greater reliance on books,” he said, noting that the interaction with patrons has always been his favorite thing about working at the South Plainfield Library.
“Working here has been a lot of fun,” he said. “South Plainfield definitely has a very strong sense of community and that’s something you won’t find in a larger library. I have had the opportunity to have a lot of one-one-one relationships with patrons, which makes your work life much easier and definitely more enjoyable.”
According to Hansen, Grippo, by going out of his way to make everyone feel welcome and by giving them the best service possible, has helped create a sense of community within the library.
“He will definitely be missed and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” she said.
For Grippo, those endeavors include the possibility of a part time job as well as the chance – and the time – to obtain his doctorate. Prior to moving to Seattle, he was studying American history with a minor in European history at the University of New Mexico – Albuquerque. This time, said Grippo, he plans to flip the two areas, focusing on his “love of modern European history” with American history as the minor.