January 23, 2022

N.J. State Librarian Reflects on Changes Over Her 36-Year Career

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

New Jersey State Librarian Norma Blake has announced that she will retire in July, closing a chapter of her 36-year career as a steward of the state library community.


In 2010, for example, when libraries faced deep cuts in state funding, she helped procure $7.5 million in federal stimulus funding and nonprofit grants to expand broadband service at the state branches.

“You can call us missionaries,” Blake said of librarians. “We want so much to make it work for people that we’ll do anything we have to do to get people the resources they need.”

Blake also headed the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative, pressing top-tier research companies, which sell specialized database and scholarly journal access to businesses and research universities, to provide their services to library patrons. The state library spent $6 million for the database and journal subscriptions, which, if bought piece by piece, would have cost taxpayers close to $69 million. Such subscriptions cost roughly $10,000 if bought by individual businesses.

Because of state budget cuts, the Knowledge Initiative was partially discontinued in 2010, with a more limited number of databases available to residents through the JerseyClicks program, an online portal of 30 databases that range in topic from history to health science.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.