We created the yearlong Everything Jersey 2016 series to inform our community about New Jersey history, food, entertainment, wildlife and tourism. We presented a total of 11 programs, tying them to celebration months or other popular program themes while highlighting aspects of our state’s history and culture. This series could be easily adapted in other states.
The Cherry Hill Public Library (CHPL) adult services, administration and public relations departments worked together the year before programming began to set the dates and to decide which topics and presenters to pursue. The team began their brainstorming by using known presenters that discuss New Jersey food topics, starting with the three programs based on that presenter: Food and Fun on the Jersey Shore, NJ Blueberry and NJ Cranberry. We scheduled those programs to coincide with the blueberry and cranberry harvest in New Jersey.
We then contacted Conserve Wildlife New Jersey, and through that partnership we created the Wild New Jersey and Endangered Piping Plovers: From NJ to the Bahamas programs. We hosted a program featuring a New Jersey player in the Negro League Baseball during Black History Month (February), and the Remarkable Women of the Jersey Shore program during Women’s History Month (March).
In total, our team incorporated already popular programming themes — such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, food, author events and nature — to create the following programs:
- A New Jersey Legend: John Henry “Pop” Lloyd and the Legacy of Negro League Baseball (Feb. 10, 2016): Dr. Lawrence Hogan, author and retired professor of history at Union County Community College, presented on the history of black professional baseball in Atlantic City and the legacy of one of its greatest players, Hall of Fame shortstop John Henry “Pop” Lloyd. Attendees also had a chance to meet veteran Negro Leaguer Pedro Sierra, who played for the Detroit Stars in the 1950s. (View photos of this event under Photo Slideshow at right.)
- Remarkable Women of the Jersey Shore (March 9, 2016): Local author Karen L. Schnitzspahn presented her findings on the little-known aspects of Jersey Shore history.
- NJ Makers Day (March 19, 2016): A daylong celebration of maker culture with programs that included hands-on DIY projects and tinkering, as well as events that encouraged invention and innovation. Participating sites included libraries, museums, makers and makerspaces across New Jersey.
- Jersey Women: Visionary and Strong (March 22, 2016): Emma Jones Lapsansky, professor emeritus of history and curator of the Quaker Collection at Haverford College, presented on local pioneer Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh (1680-1762) and 19th-century abolitionist-mother Charity Still.
- Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State (April 20, 2016): Nature author and Conserve Wildlife Foundation Director David Wheeler talked about his year exploring the New Jersey’s unparalleled diversity of wildlife species, its dramatic range of wildlife habitats, and its ample opportunities for thrilling nature activities like dog sledding, mountain climbing and wildlife boat tours.
- Endangered Piping Plovers: From New Jersey to the Bahamas (May 10, 2016); Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird project manager for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, presented on piping plovers, one of the state’s most critically endangered bird species. Attendees learned what is being done in protect and monitor them locally along the Jersey Shore, as well as fascinating story of their annual migration to and from the Bahamas.
- Explore New Jersey Wine (May 18, 2016): The Garden State Wine Growers Association presented a look at the history of the New Jersey wine industry from colonial days to prohibition and its rapid growth over the past decade. A winery representative was also on hand to discuss the quality of New Jersey’s award-winning wine, and participants were invited to learn about the various wine trails throughout the state.
- Food and Fun Along the Jersey Shore (June 21, 2016): Participants learned more about the tasty assortment of foods that have been associated with the Jersey Shore over the years such as salt water taffy, clam fritters and so much more! Foods and treats identified with the Atlantic shoreline, along with lesser known Delaware River and Bay coasts, were explored.
- The New Jersey Blueberry (July 20, 2016); Food historian and tea specialists Judith Krall‐Russo presented the history of the “swamp huckleberry” and why it’s touted as a "wonder fruit" with a host of healthful benefits.
- The New Jersey Cranberry (Sept. 21, 2016): At this program, food historian Judith Krall-Russo presented on the history of the indigenous cranberry and how it has been such an important crop for New Jersey.
- Cherry Hill: An Entertainment Mecca (Nov. 6, 2016): Attendees learned more about Cherry Hill’s entertainment history in the 1950s through 1970s. In honor of Frank Sinatra’s legendary performances at Cherry Hill’s Latin Casino, attendees also enjoyed a special Sinatra Tribute Performance featuring award-winning entertainer Lou Dottoli. (View photos of this event under Photo Slideshow at right.)
All of the events required advance registration, but we welcomed walk-ins as well.
We created individual marketing materials for each Everything Jersey 2016 program and shared via our public relations department and the CHPL social media accounts. (View sample fliers under Attachments at right.) A public relations intern also created a logo that was used for all the Everything Jersey 2016 materials. As a result, the Everything Jersey 2016 programs pulled in above-average adult program crowds.
We received a gift from the Robert Menzer Estate that enabled us to host the Everything Jersey 2016 program series, including speaker fees. Other libraries looking to replicate the Everything Jersey 2016 program could also seek funding from their Friends groups or from within their existing program budgets.
All of the events — save the day-long NJ Makers Day — were held on weeknights, and the CHPL director, librarians and the public relations supervisor shared the duty of being the point-person for these events.
Only a single staff member was needed at each to help with A/V set-up (if needed), introduce the program’s presenter(s) and collect evaluations.
We achieved our goals of the community learning more about New Jersey. Attendees were very satisfied, and especially inspired by the work of Conserve Wildlife NJ and meeting a Negro League player.
Attendance for the programs varied from 15 to over 100 attendees.
We also strengthened our partnership with tea specialist and food historian Judith Krall-Russo and added new subject experts to our list of possible future presenters. Circulation of materials in the New Jersey collection also increased.
Plan as early as possible so you can promote your upcoming programs at current ones.
About This Library
The Cherry Hill Public Library  is a community learning, research and cultural center in southern New Jersey. Our beautiful 72,000-square-foot library drew 565,487 in 2015. We circulated 366,658 items, 20 percent nonprint and 8 percent electronic e-books, audiobooks and digital magazines. We focus on emerging technology, services dedicated to children and teens, meeting space for community organizations and creating space for our diverse community.