Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles responds to your ‘Ask The Mayor’ questions: Ocean County Library

The following is an ‘Ask The Mayor’ question submitted to TLS, and the Mayor’s response. Email your questions for the Mayor to [email protected].


Dear Honorable Major:

Here is a question that is not about traffic and that I would really appreciate your help with. My kids are avid readers yet the libraries in Ocean County have very little Orthodox published materials. My sister, who lives in a different state in a small city with a much smaller Jewish population, gets dozens of Jewish books for herself and her children from their public library on a regular basis as the library caters to their patron’s request.

A few years ago, I asked the librarians if they could order more Jewish books, particularly the graphic novels that the kids enjoy, and they replied that they can only order books if the county has enough interest in it. Even back then, Lakewood was a sizable community; today Orthodox Jews make up a very large percentage of Ocean counties residents, especially children. The need for these books is obvious as there are very few on the shelves and even if we order books, there is almost always a long waiting list. And, yes, these books may get ruined faster than other books but isn’t that just proof that they are being read and enjoyed!?

I live in Lakewood and pay taxes, as do the tens of thousands of other Jewish residents in Ocean County. Why can’t the libraries order the books that we would enjoy?

Thank you,

Response from Mayor Coles:

Good morning,

We will be contacting the county to see if they would be willing to work with a reading expert from Lakewood to suggest the type of material which be beneficial.

Thanks for letting us know about this situation.



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  1. No disrespect to the letter writer. What you propose would also trickle down to every type of reader wanting more books, latinos, African American, blind children, Korean, Italian, etc. The library has books for everyone. Sometimes you have to put a hold on a book. Sometimes go to a different branch. There are plenty of books that if you review them would be appropriate every child. I volunteered at different branches in the past and the county has a materials budget just like we all have a shopping budget. Please just enjoy the free books that you and your family are blessed to read. We don’t need to change everything to suit us, we need to acclimate to the world.

    • Hi Carol:

      As the writer of the original letter, I would like to respond: Anyone who knows me would agree I am the last person who tries to change things to suit ‘us.’ I grew out our of town in a very mixed city (where my aforementioned sister lives). I played tag with my black neighbors and walked another non-Jewish neighbor’s dog. This request is simply a logical one. If there are a lot of people in your district that read a certain type of book why can’t the library accommodate, be it Latino, Italian, black or anything else? Of course, adding more Jewish material does not mean adding Jewish material exculsively. A very obvious litmus test would be to run the data; which books are being taken out and which are sitting on shelves. Based on that, decisions can be made about which genres to purchase and in what quantities.

      Wishing you a sweet new year.

      • Why the parenthesis around the word us? Books are Universal. Books don’t care what your religion is or who you associated with while growing up. Books are to be enjoyed. Maybe if the county library system doesn’t suit your family’s needs then you can look elsewhere for books. Or you can enjoy the books available in the county library system. It is very easy.

        • Maybe so, but parents care what books their children read and a public library should accommodate the public, it’s right there in the name.

  2. I’m glad the Traffic situation was being taking care of, and is fully under control that we can be fully confident that other issues will also be taken care of in an efficient manner.

    And not to worry, no longer will any blame be shifted on to the county, we will grab the Bull by the horn and make all the necessary changes ourselves.

    Snooze 😴 button

  3. Most states now have interlibrary loans where you can borrow titles unavailable at your local library. It’s a great way to lower the costs of acquisitions. Doesn’t Ocean Cty participate in this program?

    • A few years ago I tried to donate 2 movies I directed & produced to the library.
      1. “Mendel checks his Lulav” It’s an 84 minute film of my (OCD) son Mendel (then 8) checking & rechecking his Lulav to make sure it was still Kosher.
      2. “Ruchie recites Tehillim” It’s an 89 minute film (for women & girls only) of my daughter Ruchie sitting on the couch reciting Tehillim with extra Kavanah.
      After they were both refused but knowing it was messages that had to be spread I opened my own library.
      It’s been open since Pesach of 2022 & I’m proud to say not only have numerous people watched & received Chizuk from the movies but I’ve also collected $318.40 in late fees & fines for not rewinding the VHS tapes. Plus, I have another $223.60 awaiting trial in small claims court.
      I suggest anyone that can open their own Jewish library. It can have a tremendous hashpah on the community as well as be financially rewarding.
      Yankle R.

  4. Rav Yaakov Kaminetzy & Rav Avigdor Miller highly discouraged entering a secular library because it’s full of Minus & Pritzus.
    There are Frum libraries to patronize without negatively affecting your child’s (or your own) Ruchnius.
    (Besides for the books, soon you’ll find yourself borrowing secular movies as well)
    More Judaica libraries need to be established in Lakewood.

    • So true! When I was young I checked out a book about dinosaurs without my mother knowing. The next morning at school when the security guard was searching our bags for weapons he found the book & called the principal. I was immediately expelled for bringing kefira to the Cheder & my family was ostracized from the community.

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