Renee Becker Swartz, chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission and the New Jersey Center for the Book, has been named the New Jersey Library Champion for 2012 by the New Jersey State Library.
The award hailed Swartz as someone, who for more than 46 years, “has worked tirelessly to ensure that the importance of libraries, reading and literacy is fresh in the minds of elected officials and the general public.” The award goes on to commend Swartz for “her illustrious career, noteworthy accomplishments and meritorious service to her community, state and nation.”
Swartz, of Rumson, received the award during the New Jersey Library Association Conference in Atlantic City last month.
“Online information sources, electronic books, and the yet unimagined and exciting new ways that will be devised to access both print and non-print media present an extraordinary challenge and an unparalleled opportunity for the library of the future,’’ Swartz said. “I will continue to devote my time enthusiastically to the creation of tomorrow’s libraries and to the life-altering experiment in information delivery that our institutions and the people of New Jersey will experience together in the years to come.”
Swartz has been a member of the Monmouth County Library Commission since 1966 and the commission chair since 1976. She was the driving force in the construction of the library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury and its headquarters in Manalapan, the largest public library building in the state of New Jersey.
Under her guidance, the Monmouth County Library System has grown to 13 branches and 14 member libraries, serving the information needs of almost 500,000 residents of Monmouth County. She continues to champion innovative and educational programming throughout the library system, spearheading a master plan review to move the Monmouth County Library System into 21st century initiatives and endorsing the expansion of its teen and young adult department.
On the state level, Swartz founded the New Jersey Center for the Book in 2000, which is an affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress, and continues to serve as its chair. She has served as the governor’s appointee to the New Jersey State Library Advisory Council since 1976; and was its chair from 1986-1991, and again from 1994 to the present.
Swartz has been on the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame since 1994 and for 22 years has served as chair of Program Associates, the trustee board of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.
On the national level, Swartz was a presidential appointee to the Institute of Museum and Library Services Board from 2004-2009, and is a continuing national member of the Board Emerita. IMLS is the independent federal grant-making agency that fosters leadership, innovation, and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nation’s 18,500 museums and 125,000 libraries through grants of more than $22 million annually.
Swartz has chaired the New Jersey delegations to the 1979 and 1991 White House Conferences on Library and Information Services, and has served as the permanent New Jersey member of the White House Conference Task Force since 1979. She served on the American Library Association’s Office of Information Technology Policy Advisory Board from 1995 to 1999. In 1991, she was selected by the American Library Association as the National Trustee of the Year. In 2000 she was selected by the American Library Association as one of the 100 most influential library leaders of the 20th century.
She most recently served on Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton’s Women in Politics Public Service Project and Colloquium, representing her alma mater, Barnard College, where she is a trustee emerita.
Her wisdom, leadership and foresight as a member and Chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission earned her a Lifetime Service and Achievement Award in 2006 and two Trustee of the Year Awards from the NJ Library Association (1980, 1999) – the only trustee to receive that honor twice.