Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles about The Newark Public Library, its services to the community, and its present budgetary crisis. The articles were written by students from the Journalism program at Rutgers University in Newark under the guidance of Journalism professor Robin Fisher.
The Newark Public Library: Resource for Area Students
by Naina Kamath
The city’s recent budget cuts have resulted in a $2.45 million slash in funding to Newark’s public library system. As a result of those cuts, library hours have been cut, days of operation have decreased, and two branches have been closed. According to the Newark Public Library website, among those most affected by the cuts are students.
The Greater Newark Charter School is located just a few blocks south of the main branch of the Newark Public Library on Washington Street, less than a five minute walk for students. Keisha Daley, the former librarian at the charter school, who now assumes the role of primary disciplinarian, said access to library services is crucial for her students.
“It is mandatory to have book references in their projects,” said Daley. “They are not allowed to only use websites.” She added that most teachers at the charter school make sure that students still learn the value of books. However, this is not always an easy task when everything can simply be ‘Googled’.
“I had to teach some of the students how to use an encyclopedia,” said Daley, noting that many students do not even have paper dictionaries or thesauruses at home.
Rekha Gandhi, the children’s librarian at the main branch of the public library on Washington Street, believes that students use library books to accent what they have found on the Internet.
“They look up everything online, but they are told they need print resources,” said Gandhi.
In addition to using the library for their studies, students use it as a place to spend their time relaxing and just enjoying the facilities.
“They have nowhere else to go, so they end up hanging out here,” said Gandhi, who believes the children of Newark need the public libraries now more than ever. “Students sometimes can’t get books or the internet at home.”
Alyssa Carrillo is the perfect example of this. Sitting in front of a computer at the main library branch on a recent Wednesday morning, the 5th grade student said she was reading Wikipedia to expand her knowledge.
“I don’t have a computer at home,” said Carrillo, glancing away from her computer screen for only a moment as she spoke. “Sometimes I get bad grades (on my schoolwork) because I don’t have resources.”
Links for more information: