All branches of the Ocean County Library will be closed Monday, Feb. 19 for President’s Day. They will reopen their normal business hours Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library will close at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 to prepare for the Ocean County Library Foundation’s 2nd Annual Links with the Masters fundraiser. The branch will resume regular hours Saturday, Feb. 24.

A Diversity Plan for the Ocean County Library

Approved by the Ocean County Library Commission, February 2000 /
Updated September 2001 & August 2002

2007 Diversity Exchange Program Diversity Programming for Libraries COMING SOON!

Diversity Plan for Branch Managers (PDF)

Library Diversity Statement of Purpose | Diversity Committee Mission Statement
OCL Diversity Achievements | Diversity Committee Focus Teams
Serving Ocean County's Racially Diverse Populations - An Analysis of Census 2000

Ocean County Library's English Conversation Groups Bring a World of People Together (en español)

Report: Coretta Scott King 40th Anniversary Celebration

tri_bullet Ocean County Library Diversity Statement of Purpose

Diversity Committee Statement of Purpose


We ensure a welcoming environment to all customers and staff through training, activities, services, and the recruitment and retention of qualified library staff from groups that are underrepresented in the profession. Every action we take is purposeful and mindful of our diversity mission.


Diversity Committee members lead by:


  • Modeling inclusive behavior and promoting this to the staff and customers
  • Removing bias and barriers to library service
  • Continuing our education on diversity issues
  • Providing leadership to all Diversity Focus Teams
  • Raising awareness of diversity issues to the community at large
  • Mentoring and advising staff
  • Engaging in active listening to staff and community
  • Working with, and building trusting relationships with, diverse groups to heighten and increase acceptance and understanding in our communities.
  • Having a positive and lasting effect on every individual who connects with the Ocean County Library by reflecting our values outwards to staff and customers and encouraging them to expand their horizons in an atmosphere of safe exploration
  • Advocating for social equality in Ocean County

Revised and adopted: December 2008


Committee members provide active leadership for the Ocean County Library System in fostering an understanding of diversity issues and in assuring a welcoming environment to all customers and staff members regardless of age, class, gender, ethnicity, mental/physical ability, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We are committed to promoting library services for all of the county's diverse populations. We are accomplishing this through the creation of guidelines, staff training, outreach to our communities, the development of programs and exhibits, and the recruitment and retention of qualified and diverse library personnel. Our goal is to have a positive and lasting effect on every individual who deals with the Ocean County Library by reflecting our values outwards to staff and customers and enabling them to expand their horizons in an atmosphere of safe exploration.


Diversity Committee founded by Valerie Bell and Jean Vogrin.



September 1998
Mountaintop Ventures perform environmental scans using staff and community focus groups.

Diversity Plan written with Mountaintop Ventures.


March 1999
Mountaintop Ventures Planning Retreat by Diversity Committee and Administration.

September 1999
Mountaintop Ventures Introductory Diversity Training for sixty-three supervisory staff members over three days.

November 1999
Mountaintop Ventures Introductory Diversity Training for one hundred front line staff members over five days.

Started cultural awareness seminars.

Started celebrating National Diversity Month System wide.

March/April 2000
Mountaintop Ventures Diversity Committee Training for twelve staff members.

Mountaintop Ventures Ocean County Library Community Advisory Board
training for five staff and seven community members.

May 2000
Mountaintop Ventures Introductory Diversity Training for one hundred and fifteen front line staff members over five days.

Staff Development Day

“Plays for Living”.

September 2000
Mountaintop Ventures Staff training for forty-six staff members over two days.
Mountaintop Ventures Diversity Committee and Administration training for seventeen staff members.

October 2000
National Diversity Month Program Philip Milano’s Yforum Lectures.

First Outreach Librarian position created.

Initiated requirement that Librarian Trainees do a Diversity Project.

Cultural Awareness session:
March 2001 - Latino Immigrants
Speakers:  Juan Luengo, director of bilingual education, Lakewood
Schools;  Denis Johnson, Director of Immigrant Rights Program, American Friends Services; Juanita Rodriguez, Nurse, Patient Information Office, Kimball Medical Center.

Summer 2001-Orthodox Jews
Speaker:  Dvora Papelow, member of Orthodox community and library volunteer.

Libros y Mas & Fiesta

May 2001
Staff Development Day:
“Digital Diversity”

October 2001
Mountaintop Ventures Diversity Committee and Administration training for seventeen staff members.

Mountaintop Ventures Training for Branch Managers and Supervisory Staff for forty-six staff members over two days.
National Diversity Month Program Michael Fowlin “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me”.

Spectrum Too Traineeship

May 2002
Cultural Awareness Session:
March 2002  - Islam–Speaker: Mohammed Nabeel Elmasry, Iman, Bilal Mosque
September 2002  -African Americans
Speaker:  Giles Wright, Director of Afro-American Program, NJ Historical Commission

Staff Development Day:
“Diversity Works” game

October 2002
National Diversity Month Program Gloria Naylor LIVE! Author visit.

Martin Luther King 40th Anniversary Trip to Washington D.C.

Insight Out

Gay Activist Alliance of Morris County panel discussion for staff.

Vogrin-Bell Scholarship established.
Cultural Awareness session:
February 2003 -GLBT–GAAMC Speakers Bureau David Morris, Sue Harris, Ken Munson, Bill Cox.
March 2003
Mountaintop Ventures Introductory Diversity Training for eighty staff members over three and one-half days.

May/June 2003 – Insight Out Training Sessions  led by Deborah Blackwell and Cathi Finnen.

June 2003
Ocean County Library staffs a booth at NJ Gay Pride Day Parade in Asbury Park.

Staff Development Day:
Michael Fowlin performs “Beyond 9 to 5”

September 2003
Ocean County Library staffs booth at Capitol Rainbowfest.

Dr Cathy Royal hired as Diversity Consultant

Sept/Oct/Nov 2003
Dr. Royal has training sessions for Diversity Committee.

January 26 & 27

Branch Managers Summit with Dr. Royal.
Received ALA Diversity Fair Award.

Second Outreach Librarian position created.

June 2004
Mountaintop Ventures “Diversity 101” training for thirty-eight staff members over two days.

Ocean County Library staffs a booth at NJ Gay Pride Day Parade in Asbury Park.

July 2004
Staff Development Day:
Michael Fowlin       
“Serving Our Latino Customers” with Susana Baumann  
“GBLT Issues in Law Enforcement with David D’Amico  


OCL begins its fourth focus for library service to the “differently abled” community by launching a staff “name the focus” contest.  The winning entry is “Diversability - Diverse Abilities, Enriching us all.”  

May 2005
Mountaintop Ventures perform environmental scans for staff.

June 2005
Ocean County Library staffs a booth at NJ Gay Pride Day Parade in Asbury Park.

Leslie Feinberg, transgender activist, author and grass-roots organizer, speaks at a Cultural Awareness Seminar at the Brick Branch.

September 2005
OCL staffs a booth at the African American Festival held at PNC Arts Center

Ocean County Library sponsors a bus trip for staff and customers to see the Dalia Lama at Rutger University.
October 2005
OCL is invited to present to the NJ Library Trustee Institute about our Diversity Initiative

Library Program Series on Autism Spectrum Disorders begins

Valerie Bell and Elaine McConnell participate in a panel presentation on diversity at Rutgers University.

The Ocean County Library is invited to give a presentation about the library diversity initiative at the Somerset County Staff Development Day

Teen Author’s of GLBTQ Fiction for teens comes to OCL – Alex Sanchez visits the Toms River Branch and David Levithan speaks at the Brick Branch

OCL is selected from hundreds of nominations to be one of the 80 libraries to be featured in Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love. This book is the first to celebrate the diversity, value and potential of public libraries. 

The Toms River Area NAACP honors the Ocean County Library as one of the Community Service honorees for this year’s Freedom Fund Banquet in May.

In June, Valerie Bell and Christine Matteo are guests at the Ohio Library Association’s Annual Conference for Diversity. They present “Diversity in your Library”, and “A Recipe for Success”.

Chief Librarians Valerie Bell and Christine Matteo give their diversity presentation at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

In June, Deborah Blackwell gives a presentation on “How to Build and Benefit from a Diverse Workforce” at the conference of the New Jersey Association of Library Assistants (NJALA)

Language Line is installed in Lakewood, Stafford and Toms River branches. The telephone based system provides live translators in over 150 languages on demand.  The first use in Toms River was helping a Punjabi speaking gentleman obtain a library card and find a book on passing the citizenship test.

November: Representatives from community organizations that provide services to persons with disabilities, members of the disabled community, and library staff members come together for A Diversability Roundtable, held at the Toms River Branch.


January: The Diversity Committee subcommittees are overhauled.  The teams are now devoted to reaching specific populations.

Focus groups are held with African American staff and customers in order to compile information on how to improve services to African Americans.

June:  Dr. Loretta Long, aka Susan from Sesame Street, provided cultural awareness training for the staff about strategies for connecting with the African American community.  She also led 2 children’s programs about her book, Celebrating Courtney’s Birthday, a story about two best friends, one African American and one Caucasian.

Staff Development Day: The Diversibility Focus Team offers a workshop about serving customers who are physically challenged.

September: Panelists from different Hispanic/Latino cultures present their points-of-view at Piñata de Culturas, a staff training cultural awareness program.

November: Terri Woods, a well-known African American author, spends the day at OCL. She also visited the OC Juvenile Detention Center where she met with fans of her books.  She then joined author Kenji Jasper and librarian educator Vanessa Morris in a panel discussion “Get Familiar with Urban Lit” for the staff.

Ocean County Library was the recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, for “demonstrating extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding levels of community outreach and core programs generally associated with its services.”

December: A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is displayed at OCL.

The statue in the lobby of the Toms River Branch is covered during a “Day Without Art.” to show how AIDS touches everyone.



January: Kim Peek, the world’s foremost living savant and inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s role in the movie “the Rain Man,” addresses a full house in Mancini Hall.

March: Beyond Disability: The Fe Fe Stories, a movie about physically-challenged teens and how they want the world to see them, is shown at many OCL branches.  Students with disabilities and representatives from local advocacy organizations participate in the discussions after the film.

May: Current and past members of the diversity committee as well as members of the administration attend a two day diversity retreat facilitated by Mountain Top Institute.

White Privilege 101, a cultural awareness program for staff is held in Mancini Hall.

June: OCL participates in the 17th Annual GLBT Pride Parade and Festival in Asbury Park.

"Ouch Training" program is initiated at OCL. The training offers skills for promoting inclusion and respect in the workplace.

July: OCL sponsors a performance and demonstration by American DanceWheels, a wheelchair Dancesport group.

September: Employees from OCL staff a booth at the PNC African American Heritage Festival in order to reach out to this community and promote the OCL and its services.

OCL and PFLAG co-sponsor a screening of the academy award winner "Freeheld" with director Cynthia Wade, Steven Goldstein from Garden State Equality and Don Bennett from the Ocean County Observer. The program is presented in part using a grant from the IMLS award.

Two, six session series of basic Spanish courses are offered at Toms River for the staff.

The Toms River branch offers a six session series of weekly classes for eligible immigrants seeking United States citizenship. The demand for the class is enormous but space is limited. To keep up with the demand, the library will offer a class in which staff members from each branch learn the skills to teach and replicate the model at their branches.

Libros Y Mas sponsors the Fabulous Fall Fiesta at Lakewood. Despite bad weather, there is a huge turnout. Members of the Hispanic Community enjoy music and food

OCL sponsors "Your Vote Counts: The Only Barrier to the Ballot is You." The event is wheelchair accessible. Sign language interpreters, Spanish language interpreters, and OC/CART Communications Access Realtime Translation are reserved for this event.

October: Good for the Soul holds a Staff Cultural Awareness and public program at the Toms River Branch entitled Welcome to Our Table, African American Christian Traditions. The program includes a discussion with 2 best-selling Christian Fiction Authors: Michele Andrea Bowen and Victoria Christopher Murray. The program includes Gospel Music, Dance and a Soul Food Sampling.

December: The Good for the Soul Focus Team wins the Unity Award for 2008.

OCL observes World AIDS Day/"Day With(out) Art". In the Toms River Branch, the galleries are devoted to a display of artists and performers who have fallen victim to AIDS since 1988.



January: Current and past members of the Div of Comm. attend "Mirrors of Privilege" training at Beyond Diversity Resource Center.

February: The program White Privilege 101 is repeated for staff and public. Both are well-attended. Evaluations are positive with attendees asking for more programs on the same subject.

March: Middle managers attend a 2 day Diversity Training Retreat.

Good for the Soul Focus Team Plan

  • Identify the library needs and barriers to use for underserved African American community; and develop a plan to better serve them as regular and loyal library users.
  • Create and implement positive strategies to connect with the African American community
  • Learn about African American Family Culture
  • Provide and suggest programs and services that will increase connections to African American families in Ocean County
  • Learn about the reading habits and needs of the African American Community
  • Learn about African American Literature/ Books/ Authors/ Awards in order to better serve this community
  • Recommending and subsidizing programs for branches
  • Continue the library mission and vision as a welcoming and inclusive environment for the staff and customers of this community
  • Proactively market the collection and programs to the African American Community members

Libros y Mas Focus Team Plan

  • Continue working with Collections on enhancing the Spanish language collection.
  • Design staff cultural awareness programs to celebrate differences and educate and satisfy curiosity about the Hispanic/Latino cultures.
  • Inform the Hispanic/Latino community about the free services and materials available at the library. Make them aware that the library is a place for gathering information and enjoying relaxation.
  • Plan a variety of programs to help the Hispanic/Latino community with their special needs – e.g.: immigration, citizenship, education, computer literacy, etc.
  • Design staff programs in which Hispanic/Latino members of the community discuss their culture/lifestyles.
  • Create and maintain lasting partnerships with community organizations to connect us with the members of the Hispanic/Latino community.
  • Make Spanish language courses available to staff.
  • Continue research to come up with more ways to communicate the cultural differences and needs to staff and inform the Hispanic/Latino community about our services.

Diversability Focus Team Plan

  • Keep abreast of current trends and standards in accessibility.
  • Continually research and recommend ways to make the Ocean County Library more accessible to everyone.
  • Plan cutting edge programs that will serve to educate, inform and spread awareness about Diversability topics for the public and cultural awareness programs for staff.
  • Create dynamic and lasting partnerships to connect us with people of all abilities.
  • Make informed suggestions to the collections department to gather media representing people with different abilities.
  • Discover new ways to help branches achieve and maintain accessibility by developing checklists, working with branch managers and liaisons.

Insight Out Focus Team Plan

  • To provide a welcoming environment for the GLBTQI community and their family members and allies.
  • To enhance the quality of life of the GLBTQI community, families, and individuals of Ocean County by meeting their information and media needs.
  • To provide a wide range of GLBTQI programming that addresses the information, social, and leisure needs of the GLBTQI community, families, and individuals.
  • Develop partnerships with GLBTQI groups in Ocean County and the greater South Jersey area to connect the library with people of all sexual orientations, genders, and family structures.
  • Research trends within the GLBTQI community to ensure that the library responds proactively with programs, resources, services, and training.
  • Market library programs, services, and resources to the GLBTQI community, families, and individuals.
  • Provide training for staff to promote inclusivity and encourage understanding of the GLBTQI community, families, and individuals.