Fresh Start @ Your Library is a program started in 2009 at Long Branch Public Library in New Jersey to connect formerly incarcerated people with the resources and services they need to successfully navigate reentry. Thanks to funding from an IMLS grant received by the New Jersey State Library in 2019, the program was able to expand across the state. Now, participating public libraries throughout New Jersey serve as Reconnection Centers, providing people returning from incarceration with one-on-one meetings with licensed social workers, referrals to occupational skills training and employment opportunities, and access to GED prep programs. The program also organizes job and resource fairs to help clients find employment, housing, and other resources and support to help with their transition.
For this project, the New Jersey State Library has partnered with the New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Long Branch Free Public Library, and Free Library of Philadelphia. The team also includes an Advisory Committee with members from DC Public Library, Denver Public Library, and San Francisco Public Library, and looking towards the future, we hope that this program will be able to expand its reach and make reentry services available in public libraries across the country.