Nonprofit Profile: Newark Public Library is building on its long history of service to the people of the city

In brief

Name: Newark Public Library
Location: 5 Washington St., Newark
Serving: Greater Newark community
Key members: Tom Alrutz, interim library director; Ingrid Betancourt, assistant director for special collections; Abby Sanner, interim assistant director for public services


The Newark Public Library traces its beginnings to the Newark Library Association, which was formed in 1847. Forty years later, the people of Newark approved the funding of a Free Public Library. Since 1889, Newark Public Library has been an anchor institution in Newark. It is New Jersey’s most comprehensive public library, and through its main library and seven branches, it serves over 600,000 patrons per year. The library provides equal access to vast educational, cultural, literary, historical and digital resources. 

It also contains the acclaimed New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center, the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center and the James Brown African American Room. Philip Roth, who grew up in Newark, bequeathed his entire personal library and select materials to the library, and the Philip Roth Personal Library is currently under development.


  • Nurture Newark’s youth and families.
  • Contribute to the personal growth and well-being of all Newarkers.
  • Strengthen digital literacy skills for all.
  • Enhance and promote Newark Public Library’s distinctive special collections.
  • Provide welcoming, safe and vibrant environments.


The Newark Public Library transforms lives and strengthens communities through innovative services, stimulating programs and inspiring collections. 


Newark Public Library offers an ever-changing mix of art, culture, entertainment, education, technology, job skills, family literacy, black history, Latinx history, women’s history, LGBTQ+, ESL, youth, family and other programs that match the needs and interests of its greater Newark community. During COVID-19, the library advanced its capacity to provide opportunities for virtual learning and sharing of resources, all accessible via a computer, tablet or smartphone. Programs were offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese and all for free. 


Since 2016, the Newark Public Library has experienced a significant increase in usage. From 2016-2019, visits to library buildings and the number of programs and program attendance have increased exponentially. The number of reference questions asked and answered and the use of library computers significantly multiplied. Over this timeframe, program attendance increased by 137%, and the number of library programs increased by 78%. 

During the first two months of the COVID-19 shutdown, virtual programming, attendance and engagement set record highs. From mid-March to mid-May, digital searches saw a 177% increase over the prior year at the same time. The library saw a 574% increase on Instagram, a 475% increase on Twitter and a 163% increase on YouTube. The library’s 165 virtual programs reached an audience of 300,000 people. Many of these programs were youth/family-oriented.


The largest funding comes from the city of Newark. Other sources of generous giving are: 

  • Corporate and foundation grants;
  • Newark Public Library Foundation;
  • Individual donors.


  • Prudential Foundation;
  • Victoria Foundation;
  • PNC Bank Foundation;
  • Panasonic Foundation;
  • Various Friends of Newark Public Library groups. 


Newark Public Library delivers essential services and resources to everyone seeking opportunities to build a better life. Please consider a donation to help the library continue its important work in Newark.

Conversation Starter

For more information, visit or call 973-733-7784. Librarians love questions! Email or call 973-733-7779.