Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Philip Roth Personal Library Now Open @ NPL 

Goodbye, Columbus,

Hello, Philip Roth Personal Library

Author’s Gifts of Books and Endowments Provide Funding to Benefit

Newark Public Library’s Collections, Programs and Services and Create a Literary Destination



The Philip Roth Personal Library is Now Open for Visits,

Tours and Research


The Newark Public Library (NPL) has transformed a second floor space into the home of the Philip Roth Personal Library (PRPL), an installation that captures the author’s engagement with reading, writing and Newark. Researchers will be able to consult Roth’s books and manuscript collections by appointment, and visitors may tour the public gallery where the inaugural Philip Roth exhibit is on view.

The ribbon cutting was held Monday, June 7th, for this important destination for visitors and scholars and the space is now open to visitors during regular library hours.

With many of Roth’s books on display (often with annotations and marginalia) and exhibits about the author, the PRPL conveys how reading shaped his intellect and writing


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In 2016 Roth announced he was leaving his personal collection of 7,000 books, to the Newark Public Library. A Newark native, Roth benefited from NPL's collections as a youth and student and drew on his life in Newark to inform several of his novels, including Goodbye, Columbus; American Pastoral; and Nemesis. “As a librarian I am thrilled with this incomparable gift of books that mattered to him,” said Joslyn Bowling Dixon, director of the library. She added, “He believed in the power of reading to educate, inspire and transport, and he wanted to share this with the people of Newark and beyond.”

At his death in 2018, Roth’s estate created two endowments at the Community Foundation of New Jersey for the benefit of the Newark Public Library. Roth directed that interest from these endowments be used to support programs and services at both the Main Library and branches. Interest from the endowments was already being used to meet community needs, including acquiring a digital media service that significantly expands NPL’s e-book offerings.


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All photos © Maxim Ryazansky



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Nadine Sergejeff is supervising librarian and curator of the PRPL.

Ann Beha Architects designed the space, Shawmut Design and Construction handled the renovation of the double-height room and C&G Partners designed the room’s exhibition and graphics.

Rosemary Steinbaum, chairman of the Newark Public Library Foundation and instrumental in shepherding Roth’s gifts to the library, said, “We are proud and honored to be the steward of Roth’s extraordinarily generous gifts to Newark and the Newark Public Library.”  


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The Newark Public Library • 5 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102