GRP Library to have temporary director

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Cindy Czesak will temporarily head the Glen Ridge Public Library.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Public Library will be temporarily headed by Cindy Czesak, until a replacement can be found for former Director Jennifer Breuer, who resigned effective Friday, Dec. 31.

Czesak is a retired library director for the Clifton and Paterson public libraries. And when she said to The Glen Ridge Paper during an interview on Tuesday, Jan. 11, that there is a big demand for interim directors, she spoke from experience. She has been an interim director for the Parsippany and Demarest public libraries and for the Bergen County Cooperative Library System, the 77-library collaborative of which the GRPL is a member. She figures interim opportunities often come her way because she knows so many people.

“I knew Jennifer and she had contacted me and asked if I would consider this position,” she said. “I’m here two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at the Township of Washington Public Library as interim on Wednesdays.”

Czesak anticipates her GRPL stay will conclude by Thursday, March 31.
“Being an interim is kind of fantastic,” she continued. “You’re going into different libraries and seeing what’s the same and what’s not.”

Libraries where she has performed interim-director duties have been smaller than the Clifton and Paterson city libraries, and Czesak appreciates this, because she will more often meet cardholders, and the staff is often mostly local residents. Together, these individuals give her a sense of the community she will only temporarily visit. In Glen Ridge, she sees herself as a resource for a very capable staff, which can brainstorm with her.

Growing up in Clifton, Czesak said, she hung out at the public library and, while in high school, wrote to its director for employment. She was hired in 1971 as a page, and libraries have been part of her life ever since. She has a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University and a master’s degree from Rutgers University.

“When I first started, if the answer wasn’t in a book in the building, you’d tell people to go to another library,” she said. “Now, there’s a wealth of information in libraries. And the libraries provide more of an outreach to the community.”

That outreach came about, according to Czesak, because libraries “smartened up.” Once considering themselves only written-word promoters, they realized other ways to accomplish this plus provide the programming patrons needed and wanted.

“I’m encouraged by the people leading our libraries now,” she said.
Coming as no surprise, Czesak enjoys reading and crossword puzzles.
“I love crosswords,” she said. “And I like to cook. Not especially exciting hobbies, but they give me pleasure.”

A favorite author of hers is Ann Patchett, whose collection of essays, “These Precious Days,” she is now reading.
“I liked it so much, I actually went out and bought it,” she said, adding that, this way, she can lend it to friends.

Czesak is also a consultant with Library Crossroads Consulting, an organization she helped form in 2020. She provides strategic planning and conducts director searches.

“We help libraries come up with a plan they’ll be using for the next few years,” she said. “For a library, three years is about (the) max.”
As a consultant, Czesak determines what a community wants from its library. For instance, she said, teens want a place to hang out, while seniors want to learn technology. But she was amazed by how many people said they wanted their library as a place of personal safety.

“This is the kind of thing that makes me interested in doing strategic planning,” she said.
Nowadays, it is not just books, CDs and DVDs that can be borrowed from a library. At the GRPL, for instance, borrowers can take out a sous vide, for vacuum-sealing food and cooking it at a very controlled temperature. Other nontraditional items can also be borrowed.

“It’s the whole concept of lending and return,” Czesak said. “We’re the original recyclers.”
Nontraditional library items are lumped together into what is called a Library of Things.
“I’m fascinated by them,” Czesak said.

Library of Things borrowing goes hand-in-hand with traditional library borrowing, she said, because a person can begin to learn through traditional media and then borrow the item for hands-on experience.

“Studies show that people trust the information coming out of libraries,” Czesak said. “I think we have to capitalize on that.”