MANALAPAN – With branches within the Monmouth County Library system taking slow steps to ensure continued health and safety measures both for employees and library users, visitors can expect to see a number of changes and temporary measures to ensure compliance with Governor Murphy’s executive orders.
Plexiglass counter shields, staff wearing masks or face shields and often gloves if they are handling materials are the new normal. Patrons are asked to wear masks as the Governor's Order states, and floor decals identify the recommended 6 feet social distance. Workstations are cleaned after each staff change and all books and other items are quarantined for three days before going back into circulation. Sanitizers are available around the library and the restrooms are cleaned frequently.
“While I am delighted our libraries are going to be able to open at least to accommodate a small percentage of users at a time, I continue to be amazed at just how much this staff has done and how much it has accomplished during the shutdown, “ said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry the board’s liaison to the Monmouth County Library Commission. “ I feel abundantly certain that every measure has been taken to ensure the highest health standards as well as complete compliance with every mandate of the Governor and I hope it will not be too much longer before all of our branches will be able to open and accommodate more customers.”
The freeholder, joined by Library Commission Chairman Frank Wells, expressed great thanks to the ingenuity and abundant efforts of Library Director, Judith Tolchin MLIS, and the staff, for providing so much versatility, entertainment and education for everyone who accesses the library page especially during the time the libraries were required to remain closed.
With the openings of the Headquarters Library in Manalapan and the Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, visitors will see numerous protective measures taken to ensure safety.
Director Tolchin said with the planned opening tomorrow of those two branches, consistent with the Governor's Executive Order limiting the number of patrons indoors to 25% of capacity, most other branches will reopen in the near future. Based on weekly meetings during the closure of staff members on the planning team for a safe reopening, patrons will be allowed into the building for short browsing, during this first phase. They will be able to pick up requested material and use a computer with limitations and by appointment. All patrons and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Because of its popularity, door side service will also continue during this time period for patrons who prefer to take advantage of that service.
The Director added that in-person programs, a popular event that features among other specialties, music, entertainment, drama, speakers, history and art will begin again during this first re-opening phase in consistent with the executive orders, but staff will continue to be available for matching patrons with the books they want or helping them find the information they need.
We have had such an increase in customers using all the virtual programs, books and other conveniences the library has created and accomplished so well,” said Freeholder Burry, “ I can see that when things are back closer to normal, we will even have an influx of new customers who perhaps did not know us well before, but were enamored with everything our library staff has been able to provide throughout this very unique time.”
For a complete listing of library open hours and hours for all curbside services, as well as programs available online, visit www.monmouthcountylib.org.