“I knew nothing about East Brunswick, because I grew up in Bridgewater and my husband was from South Plainfield and we always traveled in other directions,” said Phillips. “So when I came for the interview here, I felt like it was a whole new world!”
That new world quickly became home to Phillips. After serving as an intern at the East Brunswick Public Library, Phillips became a full-time librarian, then was selected as Manager of the Youth Services Department in 1982. Now, after more than three decades, she is “checking out” of the library game and retiring. She’s come a long way from that young graduate student navigating the snowy, unknown roads of East Brunswick. In fact, she has become part of the fabric of a community.
“We moved into the town and became a part of it,” she said, speaking from a small office in the Youth Service department. “I always liked East Brunswick and we immersed ourselves in the community. Our five children were born and grew up here and went to local schools. When I think about the community 37 years ago - when I think about the library 37 years ago - I see how much the community and the profession has changed; this has always been an exciting place.”
Phillips’ last day will be Aug. 19. During her time at the library she has kept herself engaged and renewed by participating in many state and national activities through the New Jersey Library Association and the American Library Association. The Library benefited from Carol’s participation in the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) and her selection as a committee member for the Newbery and the Caldecott Book Award committees, among other committees. In 1998, she was honored by the New Jersey Library Association and became the first Children's librarian to be named “Librarian of the Year.” She also was elected as President of the New Jersey Library Association in 2004.
During her tenure, Phillips has visited , spoken to, helped and read to countless youngsters either through story times, while providing reader recommendations and working at the Youth Services Desk, or visiting the elementary schools as her twin sister to encourage students to come to the library and see all it has to offer them.
Phillips smiles when she thinks about the events, which she says give students a chance to get to know the faces at the library on a different level.
“We want children to know that there is always someone here at The Library to help them. We want students to know that there is some place beyond school where they can come for help, to find books, to find the information they want, and just to participate in a program or hang out with friendly people,” she said.
At the heart of all her work at the library is a desire and a drive to help youngsters learn to love reading.
“Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy and productive life,” says Phillips.
It’s a core value that is evident in everything she and the Youth Services department does, regardless of whether it’s through traditional library activities like story times and nursery rhyme programs, getting children to sign up for the Summer Reading Club, having families come for acrobatic dog shows, or by using technology to expand access to information.
Phillips doesn’t have any big plans for retirement, but says she’ll continue to do what she’s been doing for more than three decades – remain a part of the town and community. She’ll also be able to spend more time with her growing family.
“I have parents who came to story time as children themselves who are now bringing their own children here. It has been so much fun to see our community grow up. How lucky I have been!”
For more information on this event call 732-390-6767 or go to The Library’s website at http://www.ebpl.org and click on “News & Events.”
-East Brunswick Public Library