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.