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Atlantic City Library to assist citizens returning from incarceration through 'Fresh Start' program

Fresh Start LogoThe Atlantic City Free Public Library has been selected to participate in a statewide effort to provide reentry services to citizens as they return to their communities upon completion of their incarceration. The program, Fresh Start @ Your Library, is sponsored by the New Jersey State Library, an affiliate of Thomas Edison State University, through federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The two-year program, offered in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board, the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and six participating New Jersey libraries, started in January 2020.


The Atlantic City Free Public Library serves as a Reconnection Center, in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board, giving returning citizens in Atlantic City access to a wealth of resources and assistance to help them get their lives back on track. An onsite social worker will offer returning citizens individualized assessments and provide referrals to employment opportunities, occupational skills training, library resources and classes. The Atlantic City Free Public Library will also host community resource fairs throughout the duration of the program, featuring social service organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and businesses interested in hiring returning citizens.

Additionally, the grant provides funding for 50 returning citizens in Atlantic City to take the GED exam. The Atlantic City Free Public Library will provide GED prep materials and training software for all returning citizens who want to take the exam. The 50 paid GED exam slots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Traditional library services have changed,” Atlantic City Free Public Library Director Robert Rynkiewicz said. “We still proudly provide information and entertainment in the form of books, audio-visual materials, programming and events. The public library is welcoming to everyone, a truly democratic institution – and that is why it is the best place to reach everyone effectively. New library services include Computer Literacy, Job Skills, English as a Second Language and Citizenship classes, and now the ‘Fresh Start @ Your Library’ program.

“These newer services are vital – and because the library is used by a broad spectrum of people, it places us in the unique position of being able to provide assistance in an atmosphere of anonymity,” Rynkiewicz added. “The library is the perfect organization to coordinate and provide services to connect people to much needed assistance.”

“Libraries are the linchpins that connect returning citizens with the variety of available services within their communities,” New Jersey State Librarian Mary Chute said. “We believe libraries are uniquely positioned as key collaborators in strengthening the work of government agencies and nonprofit organizations that help returning citizens find jobs, secure stable housing and complete other essential tasks.”

For more information about the statewide Fresh Start @ Your Library program, visit: www.njstatelib.org/freshstart.

To learn more about reentry services available in Atlantic City, visit the Atlantic City Free Public Library, or contact:

Program Social Worker Sarah Swiderski at (609) 345-2269. ext. 3062, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Adult Services Librarian Melissa McGeary at (609) 345-2269, ext. 3075, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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About the Atlantic City Free Public Library
The Atlantic City Free Public Library provides resources and programs to meet the diverse educational, recreational and informational needs of the Atlantic City Community. Please visit www.acfpl.org for more information.

About the New Jersey State Library
The New Jersey State Library (NJSL), an affiliate of Thomas Edison State University (TESU), connects people with information and resources through its service to libraries, state government, TESU staff and students, and NJ residents, including those with special needs. NJSL provides support for public, school, academic, and special libraries, and continues to promote services for learners of all ages, including key areas of continuing need such as digital literacy, business outreach, workforce development, summer reading programs, and services for the visually and physically impaired, among others. For more information, visit www.njstatelib.org.