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Experienced Urban Library Leader Brings Nationwide Track Record of Success to Jersey City

JERSEY CITY, N.J.: Oct. 9, 2018 –The Jersey City Free Public Library is proud to announce the appointment of Jeffrey Trzeciak as Library Director, effective November 18, 2019. 

Trzeciak (pronounced “TREE-zak”) is an experienced urban library leader, bringing to the Jersey City Free Public Library (JCFPL) a track record of success that spans the country, from urban Midwestern communities such as St. Louis, Dayton and Detroit to his most recent position as Director of the Newark Public Library. After conducting an exhaustive, months-long national search and interviewing several highly qualified applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds, the JCFPL Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to appoint Mr. Trzeciak to the Director position.

Trzeciak will oversee the JCFPL system, which comprises the Priscilla Gardner Main Library, six regional branches, three neighborhood branches and a Bookmobile, as well as extensive digital collections.


With nearly 30 years of experience in libraries, including more than a decade in senior leadership positions, Trzeciak has an international reputation for innovation and excellence.

Trzeciak has consistently demonstrated a commitment to incorporating values of diversity, equity and social justice into his work. In 2014, while at Washington University in St. Louis, he founded Documenting Ferguson, a digital repository that seeks to preserve and make accessible community- and media-generated materials captured and created after the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests in that city. The National Digital Stewardship Alliance recognized the project with the 2015 Innovation Award.

More recently at the Newark Public Library, Trzeciak developed and installed a senior leadership team made up entirely of people of color. His efforts as the Newark Library Director were recognized by his staff in 2018, when they nominated him for the Director Recognition Award of the New Jersey Association of Library Assistants, which is given to the Library Director who demonstrates commitment to their staff and to staff development; Trzeciak won the award.

Trzeciak is a highly successful fundraiser and grantwriter; over the course of his career he has raised nearly $40 million for the institutions where he has worked. Under his leadership the Newark Public Library increased grant revenue to nearly $2.5 million in 2018, and in 2017 secured a $2 million gift, the largest single corporate gift in that institution’s history. He also led a successful campaign to raise $30 million for capital projects at Washington University in St. Louis.

“I am extremely excited to join the Jersey City Free Public Library at this point in its history,” Trzeciak said. “I look forward to working with the staff, the board and the communities we serve to build upon past success and position the JCFPL as a national model for urban libraries.”

Trzeciak is known for his expertise in strategic planning; he is a frequent speaker on that subject at conferences around the country, as well as Hong Kong University Libraries’ Leadership Institute. As part of undertaking a comprehensive strategic planning process, Trzeciak anticipates that his first order of business will be to get to know the community by reaching out directly to library patrons, city residents and community groups, as well as local schools and businesses.

“A critical piece of any strategic planning process is listening to all stakeholders,” Trzeciak said. “I am excited to get started in Jersey City by engaging residents, community leaders, and especially library patrons and staff.”

Trzeciak’s approach also acknowledges the strengths of the Library’s existing programs, services and facilities.

“The Jersey City Library has a history of building resources and services that meet the needs of diverse communities, such as Biblioteca Criolla, a long-standing partnership with the Afro-American Historical Society Museum, the ongoing Indian Culture Film Series at Five Corners Branch, and many other examples,” he stated. “We can expand these successes across Jersey City and play to our community’s strengths as one of the most diverse cities in the country.”

“This marks an exciting new chapter for the Jersey City Free Public Library," said Curt Harris, JCFPL's Board President. “Mr. Trzeciak has worked in various prominent urban libraries and has a formidable track record enhancing them – he’s eminently equipped to continue the great work of the JCFPL and transform it into a model 21st-Century urban library.”

Harris, who formerly worked in Public Affairs & Development at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, added:

“The Board found Jeffrey’s candidacy quite compelling because he is truly invested in social equity and diversity and inclusion issues in all areas – rather than paying mere lip service.”

Trzeciak replaces longtime Library Director Priscilla Gardner, who retired in September after a 50-year career with the Jersey City Free Public Library. Her legacy of accomplishments at the Jersey City Library was capped by Mayor Steven M. Fulop’s decision to rededicate the historic Downtown Main Library building in her honor, as the Priscilla Gardner Main Library.

“Mr. Trzeciak has big shoes to fill, but I’m confident his experience and passion for the library will help continue Priscilla Gardner’s legacy,” said Mayor Fulop. “The Jersey City Free Public Library is a valuable resource in our community, not only providing access to countless books and educational resources, but also creating a safe, communal space that welcomes everyone who walks through the door. Ms. Gardner helped craft that environment, and I wish the best of luck to our new Library Director who will continue to enhance our library system and all it has to offer.”

New Jersey State Librarian Mary Chute also praised the hire.

“We at the State Library are very pleased with this announcement. This is an excellent selection, and we congratulate both Mr. Trzeciak and the Jersey City Free Public Library Board of Trustees. We look forward to witnessing what they will accomplish together on behalf of the city.”

Vivian Brady-Phillips, Executive Director of the Jersey City Housing Authority and Mayor Fulop’s representative on the Board-appointed search committee, pointed to the critical assistance from a nonprofit consulting firm that was funded by the City of Jersey City.

“The committee conducted a thoughtful search process with the support of an experienced executive search firm that helped us identify high-quality, nationally recognized candidates with the background, skills and passion needed to lead the JCFPL into the future. The city’s investment in the search process was invaluable.”

On a personal note, Trzeciak expressed excitement about making the move across Newark Bay to Jersey City.

“My husband and I have already begun our search for a house,” said Trzeciak. “We cannot wait to make our new home here in Jersey City.”


About The Jersey City Free Public Library:

Since 1889, the Jersey City Free Public Library has served one of New Jersey’s most important cities – and one of the most diverse communities in the nation. The library system consists of the Priscilla Gardner Main Library, nine branches, and our wheelchair-accessible traveling branch, the Bookmobile. The Jersey City library system provides critical community-centered programming, literacy education, and access to a diverse collection of more than 400,000 pieces of printed, audiovisual, and electronic resources – a collection that addresses the needs of the truly multicultural population of Jersey City. As of October 9, 2019, the Jersey City Free Public Library has 248,099 valid cardholders.


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