Polish Americans in NJ Get a New Library

(Photo by Janusz Szlechta via Nowy Dziennik)

The following translation is a combination of two stories by Janusz Szlechta that appeared in Nowy Dziennik in Polish on the reopening of the Joseph and Catherine Marjanczyk Library, one of the largest Polish libraries in the U.S. One covers the recent opening of the library in New Jersey and the other, from November, gives some background and history.

It was a long-awaited moment. After years of renovations, cataloging and organizing books on the shelves, the Marjanczyk Library, which is an integral part of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, New Jersey, finally officially reopened on April 30. “The opening of the Marjanczyk Library is an important event for the Polonia. The Consulate of Poland wholeheartedly supports the Library and the Foundation,” said consul Malgorzata Rejek-Radon, who was one of the many distinguished guests attending the opening ceremony.

The Jozef and Katarzyna Marjanczyk Library is one of the largest “Polish” libraries in the U.S. It consists of over 18,000 books and other publications in Polish and English. Many of the publications may be classified as unique or one of a few copies in the world, including Poland. Apart from the classical literature, the library has historical volumes from the end of the 19th century as well as books on the more recent history of Poland.

The opening of the library was accompanied by an exhibition on the history of the Foundation and the library, as well as a book sale. (Photo by Janusz Szlechta via Nowy Dziennik)

The Polish Cultural Foundation has operated a library from its inception in 1973. The initial collection of a few books has been growing over the years thanks to donations. One of the most significant ones was – as we read on the library’s website marjanczyk-library.org – a gift from the estate of Kazimierz Kolodziejczyk of books, periodicals and storage racks. It increased the library holdings to about 15,000 volumes, many of which, however, were bulk copies of individual items – later sold to diminish the number of duplicates.

When the Foundation acquired its current home in Clark, the print materials were transferred there and stored in one of the rooms. “As time went on, space was designated for the library and donated storage shelving was mounted and secured,” says the website. Then a monetary gift from Monsignor Joseph Marjanczyk, in honor of his parents, allowed the Foundation to cover the costs of maintaining the library. To mark the generous donation, the library was named after Monsignor Marjanczyk’s parents: Catherine and Joseph.

The Marjanczyk Library served the Polish community for several years, but lacked resources to keep it open during regular hours, and the place it was housed in started to show signs of deterioration.

In 2002 a group of well-intentioned individuals decided to renovate and modernize it.

The volunteers, who have for all those years worked on reviving the library, believe it will be an important resource and venue for preserving and promoting Polish literature and culture in the United States.

All the books available at the Marjanczyk Library in Clark are recorded in a common catalog of three Polish-American libraries: Marjanczyk Library of the Polish Cultural Foundation, the library of Jozef Pilsudski Institute of America in Greenpoint and the library of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America. The catalog can be found at pilsudskilibrary.org and the library is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am to noon.

“The Polish Cultural Foundation, which is an important center of Polish culture and life in New Jersey, exists and functions thanks to volunteers and members. We appreciate all who have supported the Foundation with membership fees – the direct ones and the ones paid through the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union. We encourage everyone who values the Polish culture, language and the traditions to join the Foundation,” said, at the opening ceremony, Tomasz Szybowski, CEO of the Foundation, and Malgorzata Stepien, deputy CEO for business affairs, both of whom run the Foundation as volunteers. They are also encouraging members of the Polish-American community to volunteer at the library, which always needs a helping hand.

The opening ceremony on April 30 took place at the newly renovated library reading room. Rev. Tomasz Koszałka from St. Theresa’s Parish in Linden, NJ, blessed the new facility, there was a ribbon cutting and long term members of the Foundation (and currently Board of Trustees members), Dr. Helen Kozlowski and Jozefina Cukier talked about the history of the Foundation and the library. The ceremony also included two book presentations by Polish-American authors from New Jersey. Agata Stopa presented her book “Swietoslawa krolowa wikingow” [English: Swietoslawa, the Vikings’ Mother] about a historical character, a Polish princess who became an influential leader in the Europe of the 10th and 11th centuries. Janusz Szlechta, meanwhile, presented “Widziane stamtad” [English: Seen from the other side] – a collection of interviews with Polish citizens living all over the world.

The Marjanczyk Library is located at the Polish Cultural Foundation:

177 Broadway
Clark, NJ 07066
Tel.: 732-382-7197

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