Arts & Entertainment

Meet the Leaders: Township of Union Public Library Director Karen O'Malley

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Township of Union Public Library Director Karen O'Malley
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UNION, NJ – Each week, Tapinto Union will be running a series called “Meet the Leaders”.  The objective is to provide our readers an opportunity to hear from Township leaders in government, public safety, education, houses of worship and other areas, regarding Union’s present and future outlook.  

Each leader was asked to share a little information about their background and personal life.  Additional questions varied by job title.  The answers will be published unedited. 

Today, Township of Union Public Library Director Karen O’Malley is featured:

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Tapinto Union:  Tell us about yourself.

Library Director O’Malley:  I have three children -- two girls and a boy.  My youngest, a daughter, is graduating high school in June.  I was born in Queens, NY and moved to Long Island for several years, then to Ann Arbor, MI for a bit due to a job transfer.  After three years, I moved back to the east coast and ended up in New Jersey. I have fallen in love with New Jersey and cannot imagine living anywhere else.  It has everything:  beaches, mountains, forests, cities, parks, shops, entertainment.

I have a Chihuahua named Jack and a cat named Miss Kitty.  My hobbies include reading and writing.  I have also been known to buy and sell antiques for fun, take nature walks and I practice taking better photographs.

Tapinto Union:  How long have you been Library Director? 

Library Director O’Malley:  I have been the Library Director at Union for just shy of two years. I came here from Hudson Community College where I was Executive Director of Continuing Education. Prior to that I worked at several libraries in Suffolk County, NY (both public and academic libraries). 

Tapinto Union:   What have you learned during your tenure as Union Library Director?

Library Director O’Malley:  Since taking on this role at Union Library, I have learned the importance of being patient and encouraging others to do the same.  I have also had the opportunity to meet so many caring and dedicated people that live and work here in Union.  From the patrons and our staff to the Township Committee members and Township staff, the Administration, everyone I meet cares deeply about serving this community and are committed to making it the best place to live, work and play. I am proud to be a part of this team!

Tapinto Union:  Can you outline your basic responsibilities as Union Library Director?

Library Director O’Malley:  My responsibilities include managing the day-to-day operations of the library, the budget, overseeing all materials, programming and services, liaison to the Friends of the Library organization, sit on the Library Board, liaise with the Township, oversee finances and human resource functions-basically everything that is included in running an institution with approximately 35 staff members in two locations. 

Tapinto Union:  What do you see as challenges for the Union Library Director?

Library Director O’Malley:   Challenges I see as the Director is how to manage limited resources so the Library can offer new services that our users want, like more e-books and other electronic offerings and up-to-date technology while also still maintaining the traditional resources that people are accustomed to finding at their library.

Tapinto Union:  What do you see as challenges for Union Public Library(s)?

Library Director O’Malley:   One challenge for the Union Public Library, like many libraries, is getting the word out to those who have not come into the library lately, that it has changed. The Library is so much more than they remember and we want people to come in and engage with us so they can take full advantage of the resources available.

Tapinto Union:  Are there any new programs/events/initiatives you'd like to discuss?

Library Director O’Malley: 

  • We have our Summer Reading program to look forward to for children, teens and adults;
  • Our very successful Museum Pass program brought to us with funds from The Friends of the Union Public Library; and
  • A new program we are proud to be a part of: BARD-Braille and Audio Reading Database (BARD). The Union Public Library is part of a pilot program to facilitate the use of talking books for our blind and physically handicapped county residents. In partnership with the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC), we have been trained to offer assistance to patrons in making available audio books and magazines to eligible borrowers. With BARD access, we can assist TBBC patrons who wish to download books but either lack the ability, technical expertise or computer access to do so on their own. For more information, please contact the Reference Department of the Union Public Library at 908.851.5450, ext. 2 or email us at unionpl@uplnj.org.

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