HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Mimi Hui, Director of the Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library, indicated at Tuesday's Trustees Meeting that the library is looking ahead to re-opening and what is happening now to make that happen when Governor Phil Murphy gives the green light.

Hui explained that the Executive Board of Library Link NJ established a taskforce to address the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. The state initiative - Taskforce on Post COVID-19 Alignment, Trends & Strategies Resources (TOPCATS) is charged with coming up with strategies and find solutions to assist with the recovery of libraries. This Task Force works in collaboration with the New Jersey State Library (NJSL), the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), and other statewide library consortium leaders, officials, and associations. 

According to the taskforce website, they will focus on six areas:

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  1. Coordinated efforts for reopening New Jersey’s libraries
  2. Needs assessment for providing library services post COVID-19.
  3. Communication Strategies for reopening our libraries
  4. Staff training needs for working in a post COVID-19 environment
  5. Advocacy, to ensure that libraries are included in New Jersey’s safe reopening initiatives
  6. Framework for NJ libraries’ Response, Recovery & Resilience in the post COVID-19 environment, in the context of how our communities have changed and how we as libraries should respond.

This coalition includes small, medium and large public libraries, county libraries, consortia, academic and school libraries and representatives from around the state.

In additional, Hui explained that BCCLS also established a taskforce  - Safely Opening and Operating Taskforce (SOOT) - which also address similar concerns. That group is charged with creating the protocols for safely reopening resource sharing among 77 BCCLS members; identifying operating tools that could be implemented for groups to provide a safer working environment during the crisis, and researching recommendations made by OSHA, professional library organizations and joint insurance funds 

Hui said Hasbrouck Heights is waiting for guidance from those two groups. In the interim, she and the staff are working on a contingency plan and developing a list of supplies and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to be purchased. The library is looking at installing plexiglass dividers between computers and re-arranging computers to comply with social distancing.  She also noted the staff continues to work on Continuing Education requirements, and have logged almost 200 hours.

Even though the library has been closed since mid-March, Hui said that they continue to serve the community. She said that there were 810 total visitors to the library's website in April, and they have issued 30 new library cards since the shutdown. The use of digital media services hoopla and kanopy have doubled, she said, and the library continues to be available to the public through its chat bot through the library's website.

 

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