NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – For book lovers eager to devour the Divergent trilogy or rediscover the magic of the Harry Potter series, there’s good news. The New Brunswick Free Public Library invites you to fall in love with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” marvel at the artistry of “The Da Vinci Code” and check out the other books in its collection when it re-opens for door-side pickup Monday.

Patrons can visit the online catalog through the library’s website and place holds on books. Staff members, who will be wearing masks and gloves, will pull the books and wrap them in plastic.

Patrons will be contacted by phone to arrange a time to pick up their books in the library’s vestibule.

Sign Up for New Brunswick Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

There will be a five-book limit, and all books must be on the shelf since the countywide interlibrary loan program has been suspended.

A new non-contact book dropbox has been installed in front of the library for when you’ve finished the last of “The Last of the Mohicans.”

Director Robert Belvin said the library’s staff is focusing some of its efforts on adding newer releases to its collection.

“A lot of demand is for new books,” he said. “Our major vendors haven’t shipped books to libraries in Jersey since March because even if the library had staff, you didn’t know when the building would be open or when FedEx or whomever was going to bring the package, etc. So, they just held up on shipping.”

It's been an odyssey almost as long as Homer’s epic poem – also available at the New Brunswick Free Public Library - since the pandemic hit, libraries were forced to close their doors and staffs were placed on furlough.

With the library resuming limited service, the staff has been busy making videos to be used in a social media campaign that will give customers tips on how to hold books through the online catalog. Other staff members are developing the protocol for when patrons call with their book requests.

Safety continues to be a concern for library staff. Returned books will be kept in quarantine for a minimum of three days as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The goal is to welcome patrons back into the library next month.

The staff at the New Brunswick library that was furloughed in April is working behind the scenes to bring the library in compliance with Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 157, which limits indoor establishments to 25% capacity excluding employees. It also calls for patrons to remain six feet apart and to wear face coverings.

Belvin said arrangements are being made for plexiglass to be installed to separate the staff from the guests. 

Patrons who need reference information can use the library’s remote reference desk over the phone, Mayor Jim Cahill said in Friday’s COVID-19 report. Patrons seeking a municipal ID card can set an appointment starting Aug. 3.

“We hope for mid-August to be able to have people coming into the building for specific assistance,” Belvin said. “For example, if somebody needs to get on the computer.”

Computer use could come back online as soon as Aug. 17, Cahill said.

Patrons will probably have to wait until after Labor Day to be allowed to browse the library’s collection, Belvin said.

“At this point, we know we’re well behind other public libraries and we’re trying to catch up as best we can,” Belvin said.