Longtime Asbury Park Library Director Bob Stewart was honored recently with the 2016 Susan Swartzburg award.
The award is given in memory of Swartzburg, a Rutgers preservation librarian whose leadership in New Jersey inspired and influenced many others in her chosen profession, particularly in the areas of preservation, archives, and the book arts.
Swartzburg was an educator during the formative stages of library preservation and wrote three books, along with numerous publications on preservation of library materials.
Stewart was recognized at the awards ceremony held in May in Atlantic City, for being “a remarkable librarian and library director who has built a comprehensive and impressive body of preservation work at several institutions.” Stewart has been director of the Asbury Park Public Library since 1974 and has maintained a continuous membership for nearly 49 years in New Jersey Library Association.
According to a release from the NJLA, Stewart was a founding member of the group’s predecessors, the History and Bibliography Section and the Preservation Section.
Additionally, he served in the Adult Services Section, and helped create the Urban Libraries Section.
His service to the New Jersey library community is very deep, said member Deb Schiff.
However, Stewart received this year’s award for a specific reason according the Schiff.
“One of our sister organizations, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference includes a very active New Jersey Caucus. Bob’s work in the caucus since the late 1980s led to the creation of the Caucus Archival Program Evaluation Service or CAPES. I’m a CAPES consultant, and can tell you how important this service is to small organizations who cannot afford to hire full-time archivists, or even part-time ones to perform preservation needs assessments.
“It is such an important service that the State Historical Commission requires that organizations seeking funding for archival preservation activities must have a CAPES survey in order to qualify for the funding,” she said.
Stewarts’s colleagues emphasized his dedication to preserving the primary source materials that constitute and enable history to be understood by researchers.
“His focus on the details that comprise best practices has made his numerous microfilming projects notable success stories,” Schiff said.
Stewart has also written numerous grants, including those for very large collaborative projects with other libraries such as Morristown and Township, New Brunswick, Atlantic City, Newark, and Gloucester County Historical Society.
Some of the resources that have been microfilmed under his direction include hundreds of city directories, daily and weekly newspapers, high school yearbooks, postcards, photographs, and the notable Springsteen Collection.
From the beginning of his career, in 1967, when he headed the local history department at the Jersey City Public Library, Stewart’s contributions to the preservation of New Jersey’s historical resources cannot be overstated, Schiff said.