Kids enjoy themselves at the Kenilworth Pulbic Library on Snapshot Day

Did you know that 40,000 people visit Disneyland every day? That's pretty amazing, isn't it?

What's even more stunning is that on a typical day, more than four times that number – 160,242 people visited New Jersey's libraries.

The New Jersey State Library and the New Jersey Library Association held two Snapshot Days in 2009, one in February and one in October. The purpose? To capture the impact that New Jersey libraries have on their communities on a typical day. This joint project was a model of collaboration and a great example of a multi-type library project.

We asked librarians from all types of libraries to participate, and participate they did: public and academic libraries, school and special libraries, hospital libraries and government libraries; from the tiniest facility to the largest county systems. We created a quick survey to capture the daily activities of libraries across the state, and hundreds of libraries sent us their survey results.
The numbers were impressive. More than 160,000 people walked through our libraries' doors and librarians answered nearly 20,000 reference questions.

The comments submitted by library customers were the most wonderful, heartfelt endorsements imaginable.

Patrons sample one of the sculptures at the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center on Snapshot Day

"This library is a sacred place where you can let your imagination roam. You can live in history, and research anything you don’t know the answer to. It is a social forum, a neighborhood meeting place and a safe haven for children. This library may be small but it is the “heart of our town…”

"This library is truly my second home! It enriches both my social and intellectual lives. The resources it provides are for a wide spectrum of people and I feel my library card is the most important card in my wallet!"

"An adult needs a sense of childhood and books provide that. Children need a sense of what an adult is capable of becoming and a librarian provides that. In a world filled with cruelty we need sense and sensibility and the library provides that. Long live the library!"

"Libraries are essential to our future generations. A place to interact with like minded individuals and expand our minds, horizons and vocabularies. Please don’t limit them. As a 63 year old I can see the value to my generation and my great nephews! The need is greater now with the challenging economy."

"It’s the only place where you can go as a family that doesn’t cost you $100. It's family friendly."

"I use the library weekly- it is an important part of my life- reading is essential to an interesting life…We have an informed, bright, and friendly librarian which adds to my wonderful library experiences."

A girl and her dog read at the Vineland Public Library on Snapshot Day

"Each day libraries across the state provide accurate information, employment help, assistance with navigating government websites, and a rich cultural experience to New Jersey’s residents. Snapshot Day allowed us to highlight the activities that occur on a typical day in our libraries and gave our customers the opportunity to describe the prominent role libraries play in their lives," said Norma Blake, New Jersey State Librarian.

Patricia Tumulty, Executive Director of the New Jersey Library Association, said: "In these difficult economic times we are trying to figure out what would happen if we had no libraries in New Jersey by taking a snapshot of the incredible things that go on every day in New Jersey libraries."

We asked libraries to let us know how they plan to use the data they collected. Many libraries will be using the statistics and comments they gathered at a local level. They will include photos, quotes and comments from their customers in their newsletters. They will share results with mayors, freeholders and other government officials. They will print photos and send them to their elected officials to showcase what is happening in their library on a daily basis. More than 2,000 photos have been posted to our flickr account and the photos are simply remarkable.

Snapshot Day was such a great success that we plan on making it a yearly event.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in Snapshot Day!

Snapshot Day Co-Chairs
Peggy Cadigan, New Jersey State Library and Heidi Cramer, New Jersey Library Association

Snapshot Committee Members
Heidi Amici, Monmouth County Library
Marian Bauman, Neptune Public Library
Cathy Boss, Jersey Shore University Medical Center
Ingrid Bruck, Long Branch Public Library
Gary Cooper, New Jersey State Library
Nancy Dowd, New Jersey State Library
Karen Klapperstuck, Bradley Beach Public Library
Connie Paul, CJRLC
Kathy Schalk-Greene, Mount Laurel Public Library
Pat Whitehead, Monmouth County Library
Carolyn Wood, West Deptford Free Public Library

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