CLARK, NJ — “This is a great library,” Megan Kociolek, the new director at the Clark Public Library, told LocalSource in an April 27 interview. “Let’s make it an awesome library!”
On Monday, April 17, the 34-year-old New Jersey native and Woodbridge resident started in her new position as library director.
“I worked at Nutley Public Library for the last nine years,” Kociolek told LocalSource. “For the past two years, I was the teen and web services librarian. Prior to that, I worked as the head of the children’s and teen department.”
Kociolek completed her undergraduate studies at Randolph Macon Women’s College, which is now known as Randolph College; she studied information and library science at Long Island University.
“I was in my senior year when I discovered a scholarship available for library science,” she said. “It would pay for half of my graduate studies. A librarian and archivist came to talk about careers, and I love books.”
Some of Kociolek’s favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Sandra Boyden, Scott Westerfeld and Michael Crichton.
Kociolek said she was able to secure a grant of $300 for Nutley’s library to boost its international programming, and hopes to find similar grants for Clark.
Although she had been on the job for only 10 days at the time of her interview with LocalSource, she said, “I see some room for improvement. The previous library director, Dawn Jenkin, did a great job. I want to add some material to the historical collection because I think it’s important to preserve Clark’s history. I also want to expand the digital collection and create more programs for the young adult age group.”
Jenkin had served as library director since 2014, and left the position at a salary of $93,606.
While in Nutley, Kociolek was able to offer a teen program and an anime and manga club. She also had storytime programs as well as a Comic Con Committee Club.
“We have a 3D printer at Clark Public Library and the students will have one in the fall when they go back to school,” she said. “I’m going to use a program called TinkerCad to teach them how to use it. I will also be running the summer reading program this summer. This year’s theme is ‘Build a Better World,’ and we will have our kickoff party on June 29 with a construction magician.”
Kociolek also said she wants to improve circulation numbers at the library. In 2016, according to a state report, 100,715 people visited the library.
“I think I can increase the numbers by asking the public and having them fill out surveys,” she said. “I believe in listening to the public because we’re here for them. That was a big driving force in Nutley. I’m looking into more ebooks, graphic novels, audio books, magazines and different services.”
As of 2016, there were 14,924 cardholders in Clark and 20,000 in Nutley, according to state statistics. Kociolek thinks she can improve those numbers as well.
“I think we can improve the number of cardholders by rearranging the building setup, using social media for marketing and by taking a look at the public’s wants and needs,” she said.
The library’s program offerings number as many as 40, with clubs for quilting, knitting, mahjong and crocheting, as well as movie nights. Teen volunteers assist patrons with technological devices, and more teens will be volunteering during the summer.
“This summer we will have storytimes at the community pool,” Kociolek said. “We will also have sign-ups for the summer reading program at the pool. We want to have a live animal show this summer, too. On May 6, we will have the annual Comic Con with a voice actor, green screen, free comics and prize wheel.”
Tech classes will also be held during the summer months, and the introduction of a graphic novel for the teen book club is a possibility, according to the new director.