When the calendar flipped over into the year 2012, Anita O'Brien officially took over as Little Silver's library director, replacing longtime director Susan Edwards.
O'Brien is a Rutgers grad student, taking online courses toward a Master's Degree in Library Science, and she is using what she's learning in class to keep the people of Little Silver on the pulse of the published world.
"I'm bringing everything I've learned to the library, but a big thing for me since I am older is the whole world of technology and social media," O'Brien said in a December interview.
A local who grew up in Tinton Falls, O'Brien did her undergraduate work at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and began her library career in before moving to on to work in Little Silver in 2004.
Once in Little Silver, she worked her way up from a part-time to a full-time position, and has served as the library's acting director since Edwards took leave in May 2011.
Throwing around concepts like "library 2.0," O'Brien is clear about the direction she wants to take the library.
. We're on Facebook. We've got to get out there as far as social media, so we've got those two things done, but I would like to do others as well," said O'Brien.
Staying with technology trends is important, says O'Brien, going on to explain that much of what the library has to offer today is accessible by computer.
"There's the ability to download e-books, which is just happening now, so I'd like to get somebody in from accounting to show our residents how to download books from the library into their Kindles. We've got to head in that direction more."
She says there is still a desire for physical books, but observes that in the future, there may not be.
"Everybody likes the feel of a book, myself included, but you know you look at my 19-year old daughter, she grew up with technology. Her textbooks for college are online. That generation I think that, yeah, I think that all the reading's going to be online, I mean everything they do is online, it's like Twitter, Facebook, their classwork, everything. But that's going to take a while I think."
Among her all-time favorites, O'Brien lists the Nancy Drew series ("loved them, read them all") and Little House on the Prairie.
"Since working in the library, I've had more chance to read. Specifically, I'm taking a class right now that's called 'Reading Interests of Adults' and every week we're doing a different genre, so I've been reading some interesting books for that."
From mystery books to spiritual books, O'Brien is sampling a wide array of titles to discover what her readers might be into.
"I try to read a lot because, you know, I do get all the books here, but with my classes, I don't get a lot of time to pleasure read."
When we talked to O'Brien in December, she said she was looking forward to a month off from her coursework to enjoy reading Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and mystery titles from local author Janet Evanovich.
"Once I graduate, then I'm really going to read all these books I've been wanting to read and haven't had the time."
O'Brien said the most popular things going out at the library are the Harry Potter books for kids ("those books go out all the time") and new releases topping the New York Times Bestseller list for adults.
She said there is quite the demand for titles by Jeffery Archer and David Baldacci.
"People find out they're coming out with a book, and we have a hold list 20 people long."
Since she's taken over, O'Brien says they've been making an effort to bolster their DVD collection.
"We've been building up that collection, and on our new website, I have a link for new releases, so all the new DVD's, all the new books, everything, are listed there.
O'Brien said she also plans on bringing more programming to the library.
"We want to start presenting programs for the community. This is the hub. The library is really a community space, so we want to try and get more people in and have programs."
The library currently offers yoga every Monday night; baby, toddler, and preschool storytime programs on Tuesdays; and a book group that meets every month.
Upcoming special programs include a special key chain charm craft program at 3:15 p.m. on Valentine's Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14, for kids in grade K and up, along with a musical program featuring flutes that will take place on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
O'Brien is setting her sights on forming a knitting club, as well.
"I have all these ideas, but I need some help. I love talking with the people in town when they come in here. I know everybody and I ask them 'what do you want to see more of? what would you like to see?' you know, 'what DVD's do you like?' I try to find out what people are interested in and find out what they would like to see and that's what I hope to deliver."
More than merely keeping the shelves stocked and directing people to publications, O'Brien is driving the library into the 21st century, and many residents are counting on her to see the library continue to thrive into the new era.
"The people in town love and support this library. They're passionate about this library. I've had people come in here and tell me what an important part of their lives coming to this library is, and you know, and they don't want anything to happen to the library, they want it to keep going."
For more information on , visit them on the web at: littlesilver.lib.nj.us.