RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Gina Mitgang blazed a new path at the Ridgewood Public Library when she became its first young adult librarian in 1997.
Mitgang joined the library part time in 1990 and worked there ever since. She now prepares for her retirement at the end of the month.
"I know it sounds really cliché but I could not be more sincere about the privilege it's been to work for our community," Mitgang told Daily Voice. "I feel like I've done more than I ever could have imagined when I first started."
Mitgang grew up in Michigan and New Jersey before attending Rutgers University for her bachelor's and master's degrees. She moved to Ridgewood with her husband in 1989.
Library Director Nancy Greene said they convinced Mitgang to join them full time when she graduated and she's the most energetic, fun and kind co-worker.
"She is like the Pied Piper here," Greene said. "If you go downstairs any time you'll see hundreds of kids that want to come here and be a volunteer because of her."
Mitgang said teens come to the library with energy and creativity. The ESL teen volunteer program was one of the ways she developed programs for young adults over the years.
"I think teenagers, traditionally kind of the old-school idea is in libraries it was all about keeping them quiet and under control," she said. "I think once libraries really commited to providing services for them and respecting what they are, then I think what you've got there is opportunities for them to feel invested in their library."
The library staff will hold a going-away party for Mitgang Feb. 29. The public is invited to the 3:30 p.m. farewell.
Ashley Loria, youth services assistant, said she met Mitgang when she interviewed for the job and it was one of the reasons she knew she would enjoy working at the library.
"Gina's a legend, without a doubt," Loria said. "Everything she does and everything she touches turns to gold."
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