SOUTH PLAINFIELD- Mija Clemente, a 20-year resident of the borough, first began volunteering at the South Plainfield Public Library when her children were in elementary school. Back then, Celemente would conduct storytimes, filling in when Director Linda Hansen was not able to run the programs.
“I had just moved to South Plainfield and didn't know anyone. Not a single person. I felt the library was a great place to not only bring my kids but also some place for me to go and to meet people…,” said Clemente who was born in Korea, moved to the United States when she was adopted at the age of nine, and relocated from Brooklyn to New Jersey with her husband John Rocco in 1999.
Clemente continued to volunteer at the library for approximately five years while raising her three children. She was hired on a part-time basis 12 years ago and, in 2008, began working full-time. She is currently a senior library assistant in charge of children’s programming and her storytimes are among the library’s most popular offerings.
Each week, Celemente runs several age-specific sessions, including Toddler Time (ages 2 to 3 years) on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m., and the Storytime & Craft program (ages 3 to 6 years), which is held Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 1:15 p.m.
Clemente also organizes the library’s larger children's events, which are held monthly at the South Plainfield Senior Center. In the past, South Plainfield has hosted various performers, musicians, and entertainers as well as balloon artists, science experts, and other fun and educational programs.
“The best programs are educational, but also have to be fun. That’s the best combo,” Celemente said.
Over the years, Clemente has also organized some of the library’s cultural programs that teach children about the holidays and traditions of different religions and ethnicities including but not limited to Diwali, Chinese New Year, Ramadan and, most recently, Holi.
“[Cultural programs] are great because you get all the parents and the children involved. I always feel that…when you educate other people about culture and religion you end up making more friends,” she said.
For Clemente, ‘working with the children and watching them grow up’ is what she loves most about her job at the South Plainfield library.
“It really exciting because we get to see them from the beginning, sometimes from just when they are born... and then watch them grow up loving the library just as much as we do,” Clemente said, adding, “The [library] is the center of the community here in South Plainfield. It’s where you get to meet and greet, share ideas, relax. It's definitely a family atmosphere.”
For more information on the South Plainfield Public Library and upcoming events, visit http://www.southplainfield.lib.nj.usor call (908) 754-7885. You can also follow the South Plainfield Public Library on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/southplainfieldlibrary/?ref=br_rs.
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