Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Berkeley Heights Public Library Plan to Move Forward with Re-Opening (approved 6/18/2020 – Stage 1 – Stage 3)

The Board of Trustees and Staff of BHPL are looking forward to a staged re-opening, focusing on the safety and well-being of patrons, library users, and staff. This plan is broken down into Stages based on regulations and guidance provided by State Administrative Orders and the New Jersey State Library.

Stage One: Preparation
Continuing to purchase the supplies needed to sanitize books, counters, computers, restrooms, etc. These supplies include gloves and masks for staff, an additional hand sanitizer dispenser (entry way and outside ADA restroom), containers of disinfecting wipes for all departments, and verifying the products used by the cleaning company. A spreadsheet will be maintained to track supplies to facilitate reordering and provide a list of vendors. Signs will be posted to remind staff to wear masks and gloves, sanitize work surfaces, and maintain, as much as possible, social distancing.

Plexiglass will be installed at the Circulation Desk.

Purchasing supplies necessary for curb-side delivery (bags for adults and children).

Creating a list of outlets to promote the re-opening schedule – BHPL website, BHPL facebook, BH Township Newsletter, Recreation Department mailings, BH Schools, Tapinto Berkeley Heights, and the electronic sign on Springfield Ave.

Stage Two: Return of Materials – June 22 – July 3
In order to quarantine materials for 72 hours, bagged returns will be accepted outside the building. Patrons can call from the parking lot or ring the bell. Collecting as many returns as possible during this time will facilitate returning books to the shelves and making more items available when holds are reinstated. The book drop will remain closed until July 6th.

          Hours June 22 – July 3 (closed July 4th and 5th)
          Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 – 4:00
          Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 – 8:00
          Saturday 9:00 – 4:00 and Sunday 12:00 – 4:00

Starting July 6th, the book drop will be available when BHPL is closed. Patrons will still call from parking lot or ring bell to return bagged items.

Returned items will be arranged, in order of date returned, throughout the lower level. Staff will wear masks and gloves when handling items. After 72 hours, book covers will be cleaned with sanitizing wipes, checked in and shelved.

All surfaces (tables, counters, circulation workstations, book carts, etc.) will be regularly cleaned and staff will change gloves when moving from task to task. Checklists for surfaces to be cleaned will be posted in each department.

Delivery of items ordered during the closure will resume.

During Stage 2 – notices to the public will include: updates on Stage 2 progress, specific dates, no donations, no books from other libraries with the exception of previously borrowed ILLs. BHPL cannot assume responsibility for books left outside when BHPL is closed or the book drop is full, reinforce digital services available.

Stage 3: Curbside Pick-Up – July 6th

Public will not be allowed in the building – public interacting with staff must wear masks.

Staff will continue to wear gloves and masks and regularly sanitize workstations, keyboards, and other work surfaces.

Based on NJ State Guidelines, returned items will still be quarantined and not checked in until after the quarantine period and exterior sanitizing.

Pick-up hours will be:
          Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 – 4:00
          Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 – 8:00
          Saturday 9:00 – 1:00 (July – mid-August)

After the initial return period (6/22 – 7/3), staff will restore holds which had been paused when BHPL closed. Cardholders will be able to reserve materials online, by email, or by calling. Email notification will resume.

For Books on the Run (reserve of items available on the shelves) staff will collect the items and call the patron when the items have been checked out and bagged for pick-up. A pick-up time will be confirmed. Patron can call from parking lot or ring the bell.

ILL and delivery service will not be available. Items returned here for other libraries will not be returned until the delivery service is reinstated. Berkeley Heights materials returned to other libraries will remain on patron cards until returned to BHPL.

Stage 3 – notices to the public will include Stage 3 updates with specific dates and reminder of delivery service limitations. Overdue notices will start on Monday, July 20th.


TO BE REVIEWED WHEN MORE STATE GUIDELINES ARE ISSUED

Stage 4: Gradual Re-Opening for the Public – date TBD
Limitations will be determined for how many people can be in the building and for how long.

Signs will be posted limiting the smaller rooms to only 1 person. In the main fiction room and reference area patrons can browse while observing social distancing. In the newspaper room 2 patrons can read while social distancing. Extra chairs will be removed from the rooms to discourage gathering.

Patrons in the hallways will be asked to observe social distancing to the extent possible.

Patrons will be able to come to the Circulation Desk to pick up holds, return materials (to the box inside the door to the main library), and checkout materials.

Signs will be posted asking patrons not to reshelve items while they are browsing and making selections. Items can be left on a table in each room to be collected by staff.

Patrons can call the Reference Department to reserve a public access computer, limited to 3 patrons at any time, with a limit of 2 hours if anyone has called or is waiting.

Staff will continue to wear masks and gloves and regularly sanitize work spaces.

Only the ADA compliant restroom will be open. Staff will check periodically.

Stage 4: Children’s Room – Gradual Re-Opening
The size and shape of this room and the size and ages of the clientele make this room particularly difficult to sanitize and enforce social distancing.

AWE computers, all toys, puzzles, stuffed animals, and craft supplies have been removed. A parent or caregiver with child/children can call to make an appointment to use the room for 20 minutes, time to be extended of no one is waiting. The adult is asked to keep the children in the same area.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What Has Been Your Experience Reading During the Covid-19 Quarantine?


Quarantine Reading

Have your reading habits and choices changed during the Covid-19 Quarantine?  After realizing that mine have, I asked several BHPL staff to write a paragraph about what’s happening to them.  Starting with me, in the very beginning I simply couldn’t find a book that held my interest for more than twenty or thirty pages.  I didn’t like the characters, story, writing, or anything else.  I reverted to a few of my favorite authors for several books before I started venturing back out of my reading shell.   Also, I stopped watching news programs on TV or listening to serious news during my trips back and forth to work.  Unfortunately for my ability to sleep soundly, my next choices were several dark, atmospheric mysteries featuring premonitions and really creepy characters.  I was reading more and enjoying it less.  The weather started to improve and I could, in good conscience, declare it time to start my annual summer reading.  If I read hard covers or even paperbacks, my current reading choices are so light and happy they could fly away.  Fortunately, I download my titles so they can’t escape when I turn off the device.  I am reading more and sleeping better.
~Stephanie Bakos


When I was very young I dreamed that I was in a big comfy chair in a log cabin with a fire place, and a cat, and the walls lined with books.  And more books in piles. And a book in my lap and a cup of hot chocolate.  I could spend the rest of eternity snuggled up with a good read. Aaah.  Two months ago, when our lives took a turn, I tried reading a book but it did me no good.  Non-stop media news was all the new storyline I could process.  After 3 or 4 weeks of learning new rules and practices, while gorging on breaking news, I felt starved for a story about something else.  Even then it took a lot of looking to settle on Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.   I won’t say much about it, but if the time comes when you don’t know what to, read this.  This one book was all it took to set me back on track  and rekindle my reading dream. I fixed up a cozy reading nest with lots of pillows, a blanket, a stack of books, a cat, and, this time, a glass of wine.  Aaah.
~Laura Fuhro


Little did I know when I picked up Chris Bohjalian’s latest novel The Red Lotus that I would be reading a fictionalized, prophetic version of our current situation.  Being a fan of his writing, I had placed a hold on the book not really paying attention to the plot… a biologically engineered pathogen ready to be released by unscrupulous scientists to create a worldwide plague.  It was a slow read, but eerily riveting. Unfortunately, this slowness has become a pattern.  My reading has slowed down and has even become distracted during this time. For someone who works at a library and has access to thousands of books, I am also given many books as gifts by family and friends.  Adding to that, I love to browse, or should I say purchase, at independent and used bookstores.  I decided to focus on the  books from my own shelves, bedside piles and Kindle.  As I looked through the these titles, I saw that they held wonderful memories.  Reminiscing had me picking up books and flipping through, but not really reading them.  At work I read a review of an upcoming novel that sounded interesting.  I saw the author had published previously so I downloaded Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev from hoopla and read it on my phone in two days.  Amazing, perhaps I am out of my slowness rut.  Currently throughout the house I have many half-started or half-finished books depending on how you look at it.  Is it because I’m not focused and my mind wanders to happier, freer times when I acquired these books? Is there just one more chore I need to do around the house before I can sit and read? Or is it that I am asked twenty times a day “What’s for dinner?”.
~Ann-Marie Sieczka


Due to almost everything being closed due to COVID-19, I thought "Great! Now I will have more time to read books!" It's not exactly worked out that way. In some ways, I feel that I have less "me" time because my family is together more with few opportunities for us to run off to do our own things. We do more things together than before, e.g. taking walks, eating, watching movies and TV. I have made some changes in terms of my reading habits; I’m reading newspapers and magazines more (and not just articles about the coronavirus!). I've been reading more variety: I read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and listened to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (both novels) and I also have 2 non-fiction books (one print and one ebook) on my to-read list. The biggest change has been making an effort to read 1-3 chapters of a book most nights before going to sleep. Hopefully, even when we get back to "normal", some of these new reading habits will stick.
~Lisa Wernett

Monday, May 18, 2020

May 14, 2020

Time does fly and having fun may or may not be part of the equation. A recent Facebook post reminded everyone that BHPL just celebrated the 2nd anniversary of our arrival at 110 Roosevelt Avenue. Unfortunately, we closed for service in mid-March and our re-opening date is not yet known. Planning has already started, focusing on keeping the public and staff safe and an orderly return to normal, if modified, services.

Let me catch you up on what’s been happening. Having never been involved in anything more complex than remodeling a kitchen, meetings with the Architect, MAST, furniture vendors and IT companies have been interesting, informative, and sometimes confusing. Working with all BH Department Heads has been an exercise in cooperation, learning more about how we all function to serve the public, and just enough levity and occasional competition. Committees of Library Board members have spent hours with our furniture vendor, planning how each section of the new building will best suit an audience ranging in age from just born to seniors. Also, Board Committees have focused on the technology needed now and trying to predict the future. Perhaps the fun part of time flying has been visiting other libraries. Big or small, each library we toured offered ideas on what to do and what not to do. Thank you to all of the staff who answered our questions and provided tours.

During the quarantine staff has been busy preparing to re-open and preparing to move again. When the quarantine first started, we extended library cards that were about to expire, removed holds from all materials, and tried (with limited success) to stop overdue notices. One of my tasks was to change the master calendar by first closing the rest of March, then the month of April, then the month of May and the beginning of June. Guessing when the quarantine will end has become my version of calendar whack-a-mole.

Our next major focus will be when and how we can welcome you back. Thank you to everyone for taking advantage of our digital offerings. Also, be sure to try Freegal and create your own playlist or download some albums. Stay tuned for our next new digital offering scheduled to start June 1st.

Be safe.
~S. Bakos