SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - It has been nearly four months to the day that the doors of the South Brunswick Public Library closed to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Along with every other person and place in the world, we didn’t realize at the time just how much it would come to change our lives.
As February turned to March new information about the novel virus prompted SBPL to attempt preventative actions to remain open, posting flyers about handwashing, wearing medical masks and staying home if symptomatic; staff split into the red and blue teams working on alternate days for social distancing. But, it wasn't enough. By March 13 state and federal authorities saw the virus as too great a risk for businesses to remain open to the public.
We became a virtual library and our digital services are now center stage for the public while we wait for a safe date to resume some on site service. SBPL plans to reopen with Curbside To-Go service, similar to what restaurants have been doing to stay in business while we shelter-in-place.
Meanwhile, we are getting ready for you. We have missed the face-to-face interaction with the public, and we know by the chat and social messages that you miss us too. Staff members have begun to return to the closed building. They wear masks and gloves, and they arrive at scheduled intervals to maintain social distancing.
There are now signs of life and signs of hope.
Piles of empty cardboard boxes are stacked in a corner of Tech Services waiting for recycling. Nearby a lone staff member sits at her computer punching in numbers, stamping, and scanning new books into our online catalog. Upstairs, another lone staff person stands in the Adult NonFiction aisle “tagging” books on the shelves for the new RFID security system.
Like the driveway of a neighbor on a very long vacation, a table by the Information Desk is overflowing with newspapers delivered since March 13. They now wait to be sorted and archived for public consumption.
In the Children’s Department there are now three plexiglass partitions set up at the public desks. Butterfly bushes outside the storytime windows are thriving and daisies bloom in the garden outside the Main Entrance. Padma is behind the Borrower Services Desk checking in books and movies (transported by staff from other libraries). The official item transport system between libraries will resume sometime after we reopen. Once the reopening date is set, the public will be alerted by emails and social media.
These signs of life at SBPL are progress and its first steps towards a new beginning.