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  • Miss Rumphius Award 2024 Winners Announced

    The NJ Center for the Book is pleased to announce the winners of the Miss Rumphius Award for 2024 – Valerie Munro, Media Specialist at Hillview Elementary School, Pompton Plains and Marissa Warren, Teen Services Librarian, Princeton Public Librarian, Princeton. Valerie Munro’s Bookwormy Nights program is held six times a year, once for each grade level K-5 that is focused for each. It also invites parents to join the students in exploring the book that class has read. The program uses a diversity of activities including author readings, guest speakers on the book topic, games and crafts. The program is creative, entertaining and educational. It develops a love of reading for students of all ages. Marissa Warren’s Teen Literacy Advocate program engages teenage volunteers in creating authoritative content on social media that promotes literacy, creativity and community among peers. It increases  digital literacy, and connectionwith the Library’s diverse collections, promoting new teen fiction and non-fiction through creating book reviews. The Miss Rumphius Awards were given at the NJLA conference at Harrah’s on Thursday May 29th at 6:30.

  • Burlington County Book Festival

    The NJ Center for the Book (NJCB) was one of over 30 authors and organizations that participated in the second annual Burlington County Book Festival on Saturday, April 13, 2024 from 10 am – 3 pm. Over 2,000 people attended the event to meet NJ children’s and adult authors who discussed, signed and sold their books. Local artists were selling their wares and storytellers and musicians entertained the many families who came out for this fun event. NJCB’s Vice Chair, Sharon Rawlins, shared information about the three e-books written by NJ authors and illustrators for kids available to access for free on its website and gave away free children’s books. The event was co-hosted by the Burlington County Library System (BCLS) and Burlington County Library System Foundation with support from the Burlington County Commissioners and other event sponsors, including the New Jersey Council for Humanities, Holman, PSEG, Amazon and TD Bank.

  • Literary Landmark Award to T.Thomas Fortune Cultural Center

    The New Jersey Center for the Book (NJCB), an affiliate of the United States Library of Congress bestowed its coveted Literary Landmark Award upon the T.Thomas Fortune Cultural Center in Red Bank, New Jersey on Saturday, March 23, 2024. The ceremony commenced at 1:30 PM and ran concurrent with a second event called : The Black Press Expanding Exhibit: Shaping Black Identity and Black Influence”. Attendees on behalf of the NJCB included its chairman, New Jersey author Wil Mara, as well as its vice chair, Sharon Rawlins, Youth Services Specialist at the Jew Jersey State Library.

    The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center recognizes and continues to work of Timothy Thomas Fortune, an American orator, civil rights leader, journalist writer, editor and publisher. He was the editor of the nation’s leading black newspaper The New York Age and the leading economist in the black community. He was also a long-time advisor to Booker T. Washington as well as the editor for Washington’s first autobiography, The Story of My Life and Work. Fortune’s philosophy of militant agitation on behalf of the rights of black people laid one of the foundations of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

    The New Jersey Center for the Book’s Literary Landmark Award designates places or monuments across the state that represent New Jersey’s literary, scientific, or artistic heritage and legacy. Previous recipients include the Newark Public Library, the Walt Whitman House, and the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies.

    Following a brief speech by the NJCB Chair, a plaque was presented to commemorate the occasion, and light refreshments were served. To learn more about the T.Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, please visit:

    For more about the New Jersey Center for the Book, visit

  • Mara and Rawlins Provide New Leadership to the NJCB

    Following Renee Swartz’s long tenure as the chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book and Gus Friedrich’s interim term as chair, the Board is delighted to announce that the Wil Mara has been named Chairman, and Sharon Rawlins, Vice Chair for Communications of the NJCB. While neither Mara nor Rawlins is a stranger to the NJ library community, please read on to learn more about them and their visions for the NJ Center for the Book.

    Noted author, Wil Mara, has written both fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults. His 2013 hit thriller Frame 232 won the Lime Award for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the national Christy Award. And the 2014 feature film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, was based on his 2006 novel The Draft. In 2019, he launched the new supernatural series ‘Twisted’ for middle-grade readers noted for their easy readability and popularity with the most challenging of all students—the reluctant readers.

    Mara’s appointment as the new Chairman of the Center follows ten years as a member of its Executive Board. During this time, Mara created new stories, writing, and artwork for the popular ongoing ‘Jersey Trackers’ online serial. He is an associate member of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, the creator and facilitator of the ‘Myth of the Reluctant Reader’ lecture series, and the host of the ‘Voice of American Libraries’ podcast. He is a past recipient of the Literary Lion Award, and in 2020 he became New Jersey’s Author of the Year. More recently, he was interviewed on both News 12 New Jersey and PBS to discuss the increasingly controversial topic of book banning.

    As the Center’s chair, Mara looks forward to several new initiatives, such as expanding the organization’s profile, increasing funding, broadening award programs and hosting podcast interview with authors and illustrators.

    Sharon Rawlins is a longtime NJ Center for the Book board member who, prior to her position on the Center’s Board as Vice Chair of Communications, was the liaison to the Center from the NJ State Library. At the State Library, she is the Youth Services Specialist in the Library Development Bureau, a position she has held since 2007. In her role at the NJ State Library, she is the statewide coordinator for the summer reading program in public libraries and assists youth services library staff by providing them with grant opportunities, resources, best practices and readers advisory. She works hard to forge beneficial alliances with other state agencies and organizations working with youth. In 2019, she was recognized for her many contributions to libraries when she received the NJ Library Association’s Librarian of the Year Award and by the Center as a Literary Lion.

    As a member of the Center’s Board, she has faithfully represented the NJ Center for the Book for many years at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington D.C. by highlighting notable NJ authors writing for both youth and adults to promote NJ’s rich literary heritage. She hopes to continue to inform, inspire and engage people of all ages to discover and nourish a love of literature in all of it forms through future events sponsored by the NJ Center for the Book.

  • Announcing Miss Rumphius 2024 Applications

    The NJ Center for the Book is pleased to announce that applications for the 2024 Miss Rumphius Award are now open. In the spirit of the title character in the National Book Award winner by Barbara Cooney, the Center is seeking creative and engaging programs that enhance literacy in our communities. Eligible candidates must be employed in NJ as a librarian, library staff, library student, certified educator, or teacher assistant. A $300 honorarium is offered to the winner(s). More information about applications can be found here.

  • Renee Swartz, Board Chair Steps Down

    After 23 years as Founding Chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book, Renee Swartz is stepping down. The Center’s Board of Directors hosted a luncheon in her honor on July 19th to thank her for her leadership, dedication, and extraordinary service over these 23 years.

    In 2001 New Jersey was not one of the 43 states that had a Center for the Book, which are affiliates of the Library of Congress. With support from First Lady Laura Bush, New Jersey became number 44 because Renee made it happen. And, having secured a commitment from Rutgers University School of Communication and Information to host the Center, New Jersey was now joining its fellow state affiliates. Her vision, creativity, and perseverance lead to a broad range of collaborative programing in support of the Center’s mission.  Literary Landmarks, Letters About Literature, and the Miss Rumphius Award were signature programs. Many special events, such as Food for Thought, Science is FUNdamental, the Clothespin Doll Project, Reading=HOPE x CHANGE and Poetry Indeed attracted large audiences, especially school children of all ages.  The most recent project “The Jersey Trackers”, an e-book mystery series written and illustrated by NJ authors and artists, has been praised by school children and teachers alike. Our brochure, Two Decades of Promoting Literacy Across the State of New Jersey, documents the history of Renee’s leadership.

    Renee has received many honors and accolades over the years, having served on committees and commissions on both state and national levels promoting literacy. The NJ State Library Advisory Council, the American Library Association Advisory Board for the National Office of Information Technology Policy, Chair of the NJ Delegation to the White House Conference on Library and Information Services, the Institute of Museums and Library Board, and the Monmouth County Library Commission are just a few.

    While we will miss her on the Board, we thank her for leading the Center in support of its important mission to promote reading, literacy, and libraries across the state of New Jersey.

  • 2022 National Book Festival

    The Library of Congress held its National Book Festival in person this year on Saturday September 3, 2022 in Washington DC for the first time since 2019. This year’s Festival features more than 120 authors, poets and writers to celebrate the festival theme, “Books Bring Us Together.”

    Every year each of the Affiliate Centers for the Book chooses a children’s book that in some way represents its state’s literary heritage as a “Great Read from Great Places.” The author may have been born or lives in that state, or the book is set in that state, or there is some other connection. This year the Affiliates chose an adult book as well.

    The New Jersey Center for the Book selected The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz (Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) as their children’s book pick. This picture book, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, details the enduring friendship that developed between Albert Einstein and singer Marion Anderson. Due to her race, Anderson was refused lodging after performing in Princeton in 1937, so Einstein, a big fan, invited her to stay with him. They found they had a lot in common based on their shared experiences of racial discrimination.  Read more:

  • Miss Rumphius Award Winner Announced

    The NJ Center for the Book presented its Miss Rumphius Award for 2022 to Kate Davis, Youth Services Librarian at the Jersey City Free Public Library for her program “Fun Fridays.” The award was presented at a reception during the NJ Library Association’s annual spring conference.

    “Fun Fridays” focused on how the JCFP library could support student learning during the COVID pandemic when students were at home primarily.  Working with their colleagues on the Jersey City Office of Special Education’s Team, Davis created a zoom program that encompassed a variety of content, such as virtual field trips, story times, reading, art, exercising/dancing, etc.  The program was publicized broadly with posters, flyers, and on internet platforms, such as YouTube. The program was so popular and had such a wide reach that it required increased the zoom capacity for more than 3,000 attendees. About 1 in 8 Jersey City Public School children attend this program.  Especially noteworthy is that the collaborative outreach for programing on this project was broad and creative.  A collaboration with the Liberty Science Center resulted in a virtual field trip.  Twenty outside performers  were engaged and performed, such as Mario the Magician, and the children’s TV stars Carly Ciarrocci and Emily Borrameo.

    Ms. Davis suggests that this program can be replicated by any librarian partnering with their local schools to create programming that meets their community needs, and then connecting them to fun, high energy and educational performers, interesting places, or interested individuals and groups. The program started in the 2020-2021 academic year (and the 2021 summer session). Once students returned to classrooms, the program was reduced to once a month.

  • A New Episode in the Jersey Trackers Series Has Arrived!

    The New Jersey Center for the Book is proud to announce that a new installment in its E-Book series about the Jersey Trackers was released to the public on this website on May 18thThe Jersey Trackers and the Missin’ Mathematician. A world famous mathematician visits Rutgers University to lecture at the dedication of a new Applied Mathematics Building and he disappears.  Will the Jersey Trackers be able to find him?

    This book will join two other e-books in the Trackers series, The Imagination Tree Mystery released in March 2016, and The Greatest  Mystery in All of History, released in November 2018.  Written for New Jersey readers of all ages, the mystery series follows a children’s librarian and his book club, consisting of six curious, inventive and adventurous young readers – the “Jersey Trackers.”  Each book focuses on New Jersey with a theme intended to support the curriculum. All chapters are written by New Jersey authors and the illustrations are by New Jersey artists.

    Audio versions of the first two Tracker stories are now available on the website! Click here.

  • Celebrating Two Decades of the New Jersey Center for the Book

    In celebration of its two decades of promoting literacy across the state, the Center has published a new brochure highlighting its major programs and events. The publication was first released to the public at the Literary Landmark event at the Two River Theater in mid-November. The full text of the brochure with accompanying photos can be viewed on our website: click here

NJ Center for the Book

The New Jersey Center for the Book is affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress which was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and libraries.

The School of Communication and Information at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey has hosted the Center’s operations since its beginning in 2002. The Center’s mission is to “celebrate books, reading, libraries and the diverse literary heritage of New Jersey.”