New director of East Brunswick Public Library says library is ‘in her blood’

Melissa Kuzma, new director of the East Brunswick Public LibraryPHOTO COURTESY OF EAST BRUNSWICK PUBLIC LIBRARY
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Melissa Kuzma, new director of the East Brunswick Public LibraryPHOTO COURTESY OF EAST BRUNSWICK PUBLIC LIBRARY

EAST BRUNSWICK – “When I was in high school, my mom brought me to this library for a project,” Melissa Kuzma, the new library director of the East Brunswick Public Library said in a prepared statement. “It was so much bigger and grander than my local library; I was so impressed that I still remember it more than 30 years later. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think that I’m now the director of that library.”

 

The East Brunswick Public Library Board of Trustees announced at its Aug. 18 meeting that Kuzma was appointed library director. Board of Trustees President Deborah Cornavaca described Kuzma as bringing “a unique and divers skill set, combined with years of library experience.

Cornavaca added, “She is a great hand-on leader, and she will add to the culture of excellence that we have at East Brunswick Public Library,” according to the statement.

“The township is thrilled and exited to welcome Melissa Kuzma as the new library director of East Brunswick Public Library,” Mayor Brad Cohen said in the statement. “As mayor and a member of the Library Board of Trustees, I am sure that she will reach out to the greater East Brunswick community and enhance the quality of services, and programs provided in, what I believe, is the best public library in New Jersey.”

“Melissa’s strong commitment to libraries will serve her well as we look to redefine the role of a library in ways that continue to keep it at the core of our 21st century East Brunswick community,” Cohen said in the statement.

Kuzma first joined the East Brunswck Public Library as assistant director in 2016, but she has spent most of her career working in libraries, according to the statement. After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in history, she worked at New York Public Library as a librarian trainee.

“I just fell in love with it. I was always a library user and a big reader; my mom is also a librarian, so it’s kind of in my blood,” she said in the statement.

Kuzma earned her Masters in Library Sciences at Rutgers University, and she worked at New York Public Library and West Orange Public Library as a librarian.

Her career path eventually took her out of the library, working for companies that serve public, academic and corporate libraries as a project manager for Baker & Taylor and as a product manager for R. R. Bowker.

“Working on that side of the information services industry really gave me an education on the business side of libraries,” Kuzma said in the statement.

She also worked as the Summit Housing Authority’s deputy executive director.

“Our office was within walking distance of the library,” she said in the statement. “Once a week, I would make a point to go to the library. And as soon as I would walk in, I would have a feeling of comfort and of being ‘at home’ that I never felt anywhere else. I just knew I had to go back; I missed working in libraries too much.”

Kuzma was drawn to working at East Brunswick Public Library for many reasons.

“East Brunswick is a diverse and inclusive community. The residents are very passionate about the town they call home, and they have always strongly supported their library. After working here for a few weeks, my husband noticed how happy I was at my new job. I realized how important working in a public library is to me,” she said in the statement.

As assistant director, Kuzma planned several essential projects to improve the library and the services it offers. In 2017, she oversaw a renovation that included new flooring, public service desks, meeting rooms, cafe and Makerspace. She also developed a plan to implement a RFID library inventory management system, and a partnership with PSE&G to develop an energy and cost-efficient lighting system, according to the statement.

Since being named the interim library director earlier this year, she has worked on preparing a submission for the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act.

“Right now, my main focus is on making sure the library is serving the community during the pandemic and working toward reopening safely for the public and for staff,” she said in the statement. “Hopefully, we will be awarded the construction bond grant, and the library can start working on our big renovation project. I will also be looking for opportunities for us to collaborate more with other township agencies and local businesses, as well as grant opportunities to help us fund new and exciting programs and services.”