Anthony Iannarone: For the Love of Books

Despite personal setbacks, Anthony Iannarone has helped the Nutley Public Library flourish for 30 years.

Anthony "Tony" Iannarone from the Nutley Public Library.
Anthony "Tony" Iannarone from the Nutley Public Library.
Photo by John Emerson

At 85, Anthony “Tony” Iannarone recalls moments from 50 years ago as if they happened yesterday. One moment he remembers with painful precision occurred on a beautiful day in early May 1949. Iannarone, then a freshman at Rutgers University, was toying with chemicals in a laboratory classroom when an explosion resulted in the loss of his hands.

After a summer-long recovery, Iannarone returned to school. He went on to become president of his senior class, graduating with a BS in psychology. He later earned a law degree and master’s in law from NYU.

Iannarone settled in Nutley with his wife and their growing family. In 1972, he was asked to join the Nutley Public Library Board of Trustees. A book lover, Iannarone couldn’t resist. In time, he became board president—a post he has held for 30 years. Under his watch, the library has evolved into a state-of-the-art information and cultural center that is a pillar of the community.

As board president, Iannarone spearheaded a $2.5 million renovation and expansion of the building (one of the state’s 36 original Carnegie libraries) in the late 1980s. He has pushed to expand library hours—the building is currently open 60 hours a week—and established permanent gift funds that total more than $475,000.
The library is technologically up-to-date with Kindles and Nooks available to take home, and e-books available for download.

In addition to his 40-year career in law and his library leadership, Iannarone has devoted himself to numerous other civic and charitable causes in support of the Nutley community.

“I am proud—proud of the library, proud of the town,” he says. “I put my heart and soul into it.”

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