FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Originally built in 1979, on 107 Ridgedale Avenue, the Florham Park Public Library has always made it its mission to serve the local community through books, movies and enrichment programs for children and adults.
However, in recent months, due to the coronavirus, things haven't been the same for many library staff and patrons. The Florham Park Library first closed on March 13th, and began a phased reopening and resumption of services back in June.
"During the three-plus months where the library was closed, we offered many virtual programs and expanded access to our digital resources," said Nancy Aravecz Shah, who has been library director since January of this year.
"Virtual programs like our Cookbook Club, Stich Relief, and Book Talk have helped to keep members of the Florham Park community connected to each other while remaining in our homes. Since the spring, we have seen a dramatic increase in ebook and eaudiobook usage on our Cloud Library platform, where library patrons can access the newest and most popular titles out now. We added several high-quality digital platforms: Hoopla, which offers ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies, and TV for the whole family on demand; Lynda, which offers a vast collection of skill-building courses and tutorials in a wide range of topics like job searching, web development, and design; Help Now, which provides unlimited live homework help from a vetted professional tutor; and Creative Bug, which grants access to a catalog of high-quality (and fun!) crafting tutorials."
Nowadays the Florham Park Library is currently open to the public for "express browsing" service during limited hours, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 12-7:00 p.m, and on Wednesday and Fridays, from 12-5:00 p.m., and for seniors only on Tuesdays, from 10:00 a.m., to 12:00 p.m. Appointments do not need to made and users are asked to keep their time inside to 30 minutes or less.
Curbside pickup services are offered from Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m., to 3:00 p.m. Patrons can also use the library's computers by appointment for 45 minutes per day.
Patrons going inside the building may have noticed that the library looks a little different. Staff has removed the chairs to prevent people from lingering too long, plexiglass ("sneeze shields") line the circulation desk, and the meeting rooms are off-limits. One of these meeting rooms is currently being used as a studio where library staff film digital storytimes, while another room is used to quarantine library books that have been returned.
"This is an extra safety precaution most libraries are taking these days to protect staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community," said Shah.
"We are happy that we are still able to serve our community and will continue to do as much as we can, while also working to prioritize the safety of our staff and our patrons. Our users are evolving with us, adopting more use of digital services and virtual reference and programming. So many of our patrons have also expressed many words of thanks and appreciation to us over the past few weeks, which has been encouraging during these difficult times! We look forward to the future, and finding our 'new normal,' as they say."