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Identifier: MG Nwk Librariana

Scope and Contents

The records of the Newark Public Library, known as Librariana, include manuscript and printed materials, photographs and graphics, and other materials. The bulk of it covers the years from its founding in 1889 to the present. It is arranged according to the following record groups, each of which has its own finding aid:

I. History: A small group consisting of secondary histories of the Newark Public Library, mostly written by staff members.

II. Trustees: Including, most importantly, the minutes, as well as the resolutions and correspondence.

III. Reports: Mostly annual reports, but also directors’ reports, assistant directors’ reports, deputy directors’ reports, and departmental reports, both annual and monthly.

IV. Financial Records: Including audits, budgets, reports, statements, etc…

V. Buildings: Consisting of plans for construction, renovation, and maintenance of the Main Library on Washington Street and the various branches throughout the city.

VI. The Administrative Papers for the first five directors: a) Frank P. Hill, 1889-1901 b) John Cotton Dana, 1902-1929 c) Beatrice Winser, 1929-1942 d) John Boynton Kaiser, 1943-1958 e) James E. “Ned” Bryan, 1958-1972 f) The Administrative Papers for the three directors during the 1970s and 1980s: These three men were Bernard Shein (1972-1977), William Urban (1977-1979), and Thomas J. Alrutz (1979-1988). Their papers have been kept together in one record group. VII. Departmental Records: Including acquisition lists, art and music department, bindery department, branches, business branch, cataloging department, central library services, children’s and schools department, community library services, education department, general reference and collections, lending and reference department, newspaper clippings, New Jersey room, order department, press releases, public relations and information, registration and receiving, and technical services.

VIII. Staff: Including information on individual staff members as well as information on the Staff Association and various staff notices from the directors regarding rules and regulations.

IX. Publications: Mostly books, pamphlets, and other monographs; serials; broadsides, brochures, circulars, leaflets; and other published materials.

X. Scrapbooks: Created by staff members, these scrapbooks document the activities of the Library through newspaper clippings, published information, program announcements, public notices, etc…

XI. Photographs: Including buildings, branches, departments, directors, staff members, trustees, patrons, programs, exhibits, etc…

Three smaller related records groups contain information on the following:

A. Newark Library Association: A private organization, a subscription library, which required members to purchase shares of stock in order to utilize its collections; it operated from 1847 until 1889 and was the precursor to the Newark Public Library.

B. Newark Museum Association: Founded by John Cotton Dana and other civic leaders in 1909, it grew out of a series of exhibitions on the fine arts, decorative arts, and natural sciences that were held on the 4th floor of the Newark Public Library from 1902 onward.

C. Harper (Frances W.) Literary Society: A small collection on the activities of this society funded by the Harper Family and held each year at the Newark Public Library.


  • 1846 - 2019

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Biographical / Historical

The Newark Public Library traces its roots to the Newark Library Association, a private organization chartered in 1847, which required members to purchase shares of stock in order to utilize the collections. Due to the city’s growth over the next forty years, in 1887 a referendum was passed that approved the founding of a free public library, open to all citizens. Thereafter, the Board of Trustees was established; a librarian, Frank P. Hill, was hired; and the former holdings of the Newark Library Association (approximately 10,000 volumes) were acquired. The new Free Public Library of Newark was opened in 1889 on West Park Street near Broad Street. By the end of its first decade, a new building was under construction on Washington Street – one that opened in 1902.

From its very beginnings, outreach was important: the concept of browsable stacks was introduced; an area specifically designed for children was established; books in foreign languages were added to cater to an increasing immigrant population; school visits were welcomed; books were distributed by wagon to schools and firehouses; delivery stations were created in department stores; and a branch service was opened at the high school.

Mr. Hill was succeeded by John Cotton Dana, who was a progressive. He promoted education, business, and culture in the Library through a continual advocacy on bookplates, broadsides, and in various publications. Upon his death in 1929, he was succeeded by his assistant, Beatrice Winser, who served as Director until 1942.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the Library continued to grow under the leadership of John Boyleton Kaiser, James E. “Ned” Bryan, J. Bernard Schein, Thomas J. Alrutz, Alex Boyd, Wilma Grey and others. Today, under the direction of Jeffrey Trzeciak,, the Library continues to supply essential services to its residents. It serves and enriches Newark’s citizens and visitors by offering exhibits, cultural programs, classes, reference assistance, computer access, Wi-Fi, and research level collections, especially in art and local history, all free of charge.


200 Linear Feet (approx. 410 boxes + 20 oversize boxes + 220 volumes) : Annual, Finance, Operation and Budget Reports, Assist. Directors Reports, Harper's Literary Society, Photos, Scrapbooks and some publications in FILEROOM. Photos, Dana and Winser Papers in MAIN. Majority of Collection OFFSITE.

Language of Materials



The records of the Newark Public Library, known as Librariana, include manuscript and printed materials, photographs and graphics, and other materials. The bulk of it covers the years from its founding in 1889 to the present. It is arranged alphabetically for the most part.

Related Materials

SEE ALSO: AV Collection for library-related video.

William A. Peniston, Ph.D.
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States