Robert Rynkiewicz retires as director; Board of Trustees appoints Melissa McGeary

Melissa McGearyAtlantic City Free Public Library Director Robert P. Rynkiewicz retired after more than 40 years with the library. His final day was May 31. The Library’s Board of Trustees appointed Assistant Director Melissa McGeary as the new director, effective June 1.

Rynkiewicz joined the staff in 1979 as a library assistant in the Circulation Department and later headed various departments. He was appointed assistant director in 1990 and held that role until being named director in November 2016.

Farewell message from outgoing Library Director Robert Rynkiewicz

Despite the funding and staffing challenges caused by the PILOT bill, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the library has implemented many new initiatives and services through its grant writing efforts and strong community partnerships. Some of the library’s accomplishments during Rynkiewicz’s time as director include: developing The Atlantic City Experience historical exhibits in the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall lobby; upgrading the Main Library facility; hiring a full-time social worker; creating initiatives that focused on digital literacy, increasing job training and assistance; making books more accessible throughout the city; and improving online access to the library’s archive and material collections.

McGeary began her career at the library in 2017 as a part-time library associate and climbed the ladder, earning new job titles and increasing responsibilities before becoming the assistant director in May 2023. Her duties have included supervising the Circulation Department and Richmond Branch Library, planning adult programs and developing the adult collection of materials.

“I've learned a lot during my time at the library, from my colleagues and from the community,” she said. “I have had many fantastic mentors, including Bob Rynkiewicz and former Library Director Maureen Sherr Frank. I am extremely lucky to have found a work culture that values outside-the-box thinking, which has allowed me to thrive in the roles I've held here. I plan to continue the many programs and initiatives that began under Bob, to look for new and innovative ways to engage with the community, and to champion inclusion and barrier-free access.”

McGeary has written or co-written many grants in recent years that have resulted in expanded library services and improved technology access for the community. The library was recently awarded nearly $1.3 million in grant funding through the New Jersey State Library (NJSL) Community Center Digital Connect Program – a community resilience project intended to address disparities in access to education, employment, and health.

Some of her other contributions include:
• Receiving grant funding to implement projects such as the Path to the American Dream Project, Communication Skills for the 21st Century, Atlantic City Digital Connection Project, Atlantic City Digital Skills Training Project, NJSL + Partners Literacy Grant Project and the Building Employment Skills Training (BEST) Program
• Bringing the NJSL Fresh Start @ Your Library program to the city to help formerly incarcerated individuals transition back into the community
• Co-founding the Atlantic County Reentry Task Force
• Implementing a fine-free policy on overdue materials to make the library more inclusive
• Developing new and diverse programs, including the Black Stories Matter Virtual Book Club

McGeary earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree from Rutgers University in 2018. She also holds an Associate of Arts in Humanities from Atlantic Cape Community College and Bachelor of Arts in History from Stockton University.