HAZLET –Five years after she took on the job of library branch manager, Diana Zambrano is saying goodbye to patrons and the staff. In January she begins a new assignment at the larger Ocean Township branch. Her last day will be Monday, Dec. 31.
During her time in Hazlet, Zambrano doubled the size of the large print collection, introduced popular programs for families and helped countless patrons figure out how to use their e-book reading devices.
“It’s really a team here. It’s a great community. I’m really going to miss it, from the staff to the patrons,” she said on Thursday.
Zambrano is employed by the Monmouth County Library System, overseeing a staff of 8 employees and an army of local adult volunteers and students seeking service hours. The Hazlet Library serves a population which includes seniors, computer users, after school kids and nearby residents in Holmdel. The new Hazlet Library Branch Manager will be Mary Patterson, currently working at the Marlboro Library. Patterson previously worked at Hazlet.
Departing with Zambrano is Children’s Librarian Jackie Moss. The two successfully worked together on new family programming such as an Alice in Wonderland anniversary, a scavenger hunt and the recent Spooktacular, which attracted 90 people. Her replacement has not yet been named but is expected by February, Zambrano said.
On Thursday, a stream of Hazlet friends stopped in to give hugs goodbye. Helen Erven, a member of the Hazlet Library Commission who was motivated to volunteer after she met Zambrano at a book sale, praised her for being “considerate” to patrons and “inventive” by bringing new patrons in the door.
Retired Cove Road Schoolteacher Nancy Hornacek said Zambrano introduced her to the library’s monthly book club, a group of about 15-20 people, which she said she loves. “That’s now, like, the highlight of my month,” she said. Recent college graduate Nick Eusebi, who worked for many summers as a library monitor, said he had learned a lot by working with Zambrano, especially about organization.
Zambrano began her career as a Kindergarten and pre-K teacher and worked for the Diocese of Trenton at Monmouth University’s Catholic Center. She came upon her career choice later in life. “I was in my fifties, and I decided to be a librarian. I always loved libraries. I don’t know why I had never thought of it as a career,” she said. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Library Science from Clarion University she was hired by Monmouth County in 2012. The West Long Branch resident worked as an assistant to the branch manager in Ocean Township for a year before being assigned to Hazlet, where she took over the job from Branch Manager Beth Henderson, who now works in the Howell branch.
Of the many projects she took on, perhaps Zambrano is most proud of the expanded “large print” collection at Hazlet. When she arrived, there was a very small rack of books marked with distinctive yellow binding tags. A patron told Zambrano that she would no longer come to the Hazlet library because she had read all them. Zambrano contacted library headquarters in Manalapan, which put Hazlet on a list for more authors. She also got access to a closet full of large print books that had come off the shelves in Manalapan, and made four trips back and forth to bring them back to Hazlet. Next she worked with the Library Commission to purchase two large black shelves with book sale proceeds to hold the hundreds of large print books.
Zambrano recalls that patron’s reaction. “She came in one day and said, ‘There’s so many books here, I don’t know how I’m going to read them all,'” she said. “So that was a really nice moment that felt like we really helped – I’m sure not just her – but other people who just didn’t speak up about it,” Zambrano said.
Hazlet Library Commission Chair Audrey Tyler said Zambrano will be missed. “She is full of energy and has invigorated all our programs and the interaction with the community. She is a whiz at technology. She has really been a blessing. All our employees and patrons love her and we will dearly miss her,” Tyler said.