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McKnight Introduces Legislation to Increase Support for Libraries

Measure Would Make Second Week of September ‘Library Awareness Week in New Jersey’

Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight has introduced legislation to foster public pride in, and support for, New Jersey’s public libraries.

“In addition to providing access to information that empowers people to make informed decisions, libraries often function as de facto community centers, where visitors can have meetings, receive tutoring and find tax forms, for example. The library also is where many young children first develop an appreciation of reading, a relationship that continues as they later study, conduct research for school and establish the academic foundation they will need to succeed,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “People from all walks of life know that they can visit the library and trust the staff to point them in the right direction whenever they need help. Our state ought to acknowledge just how special that is.”

The legislation (AJR-170) would designate the second week of September of each year as “Library Awareness Week in New Jersey.” During the week, public officials and residents of New Jersey would be encouraged to organize activities and programs to recognize the important role libraries and their staff play in a democratic society, McKnight said.

McKnight’s introduction of the joint resolution follows the governor’s recent approval of legislation (A-222), entitled the “New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act,” to authorize the issuance of $125 million in state general obligation bonds to provide grants for the construction, expansion and equipping of New Jersey’s public libraries. The funding is pending voter approval in an upcoming election.

Support for public libraries is particularly critical as President Donald J. Trump proposes eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which finances programs at 123,000 libraries nationwide, including the New Jersey State Library, McKnight said.

“Our commitment to public libraries stems from a recognition that these institutions bring communities together,” said McKnight. “Libraries offer unique, top-notch resources, skilled staff and safe, friendly environments that should be honored and preserved.”