Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Berkeley Heights Public Library Plan to Move Forward with Re-Opening (approved 6/18/2020 – Stage 1 – Stage 3)

The Board of Trustees and Staff of BHPL are looking forward to a staged re-opening, focusing on the safety and well-being of patrons, library users, and staff. This plan is broken down into Stages based on regulations and guidance provided by State Administrative Orders and the New Jersey State Library.

Stage One: Preparation
Continuing to purchase the supplies needed to sanitize books, counters, computers, restrooms, etc. These supplies include gloves and masks for staff, an additional hand sanitizer dispenser (entry way and outside ADA restroom), containers of disinfecting wipes for all departments, and verifying the products used by the cleaning company. A spreadsheet will be maintained to track supplies to facilitate reordering and provide a list of vendors. Signs will be posted to remind staff to wear masks and gloves, sanitize work surfaces, and maintain, as much as possible, social distancing.

Plexiglass will be installed at the Circulation Desk.

Purchasing supplies necessary for curb-side delivery (bags for adults and children).

Creating a list of outlets to promote the re-opening schedule – BHPL website, BHPL facebook, BH Township Newsletter, Recreation Department mailings, BH Schools, Tapinto Berkeley Heights, and the electronic sign on Springfield Ave.

Stage Two: Return of Materials – June 22 – July 3
In order to quarantine materials for 72 hours, bagged returns will be accepted outside the building. Patrons can call from the parking lot or ring the bell. Collecting as many returns as possible during this time will facilitate returning books to the shelves and making more items available when holds are reinstated. The book drop will remain closed until July 6th.

          Hours June 22 – July 3 (closed July 4th and 5th)
          Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 – 4:00
          Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 – 8:00
          Saturday 9:00 – 4:00 and Sunday 12:00 – 4:00

Starting July 6th, the book drop will be available when BHPL is closed. Patrons will still call from parking lot or ring bell to return bagged items.

Returned items will be arranged, in order of date returned, throughout the lower level. Staff will wear masks and gloves when handling items. After 72 hours, book covers will be cleaned with sanitizing wipes, checked in and shelved.

All surfaces (tables, counters, circulation workstations, book carts, etc.) will be regularly cleaned and staff will change gloves when moving from task to task. Checklists for surfaces to be cleaned will be posted in each department.

Delivery of items ordered during the closure will resume.

During Stage 2 – notices to the public will include: updates on Stage 2 progress, specific dates, no donations, no books from other libraries with the exception of previously borrowed ILLs. BHPL cannot assume responsibility for books left outside when BHPL is closed or the book drop is full, reinforce digital services available.

Stage 3: Curbside Pick-Up – July 6th

Public will not be allowed in the building – public interacting with staff must wear masks.

Staff will continue to wear gloves and masks and regularly sanitize workstations, keyboards, and other work surfaces.

Based on NJ State Guidelines, returned items will still be quarantined and not checked in until after the quarantine period and exterior sanitizing.

Pick-up hours will be:
          Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 – 4:00
          Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 – 8:00
          Saturday 9:00 – 1:00 (July – mid-August)

After the initial return period (6/22 – 7/3), staff will restore holds which had been paused when BHPL closed. Cardholders will be able to reserve materials online, by email, or by calling. Email notification will resume.

For Books on the Run (reserve of items available on the shelves) staff will collect the items and call the patron when the items have been checked out and bagged for pick-up. A pick-up time will be confirmed. Patron can call from parking lot or ring the bell.

ILL and delivery service will not be available. Items returned here for other libraries will not be returned until the delivery service is reinstated. Berkeley Heights materials returned to other libraries will remain on patron cards until returned to BHPL.

Stage 3 – notices to the public will include Stage 3 updates with specific dates and reminder of delivery service limitations. Overdue notices will start on Monday, July 20th.


Stage 4: Gradual Re-Opening for the Public – date TBD
Limitations will be determined for how many people can be in the building and for how long.

Signs will be posted limiting the smaller rooms to only 1 person. In the main fiction room and reference area patrons can browse while observing social distancing. In the newspaper room 2 patrons can read while social distancing. Extra chairs will be removed from the rooms to discourage gathering.

Patrons in the hallways will be asked to observe social distancing to the extent possible.

Patrons will be able to come to the Circulation Desk to pick up holds, return materials (to the box inside the door to the main library), and checkout materials.

Signs will be posted asking patrons not to reshelve items while they are browsing and making selections. Items can be left on a table in each room to be collected by staff.

Patrons can call the Reference Department to reserve a public access computer, limited to 3 patrons at any time, with a limit of 2 hours if anyone has called or is waiting.

Staff will continue to wear masks and gloves and regularly sanitize work spaces.

Only the ADA compliant restroom will be open. Staff will check periodically.

Stage 4: Children’s Room – Gradual Re-Opening
The size and shape of this room and the size and ages of the clientele make this room particularly difficult to sanitize and enforce social distancing.

AWE computers, all toys, puzzles, stuffed animals, and craft supplies have been removed. A parent or caregiver with child/children can call to make an appointment to use the room for 20 minutes, time to be extended of no one is waiting. The adult is asked to keep the children in the same area.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What Has Been Your Experience Reading During the Covid-19 Quarantine?

Quarantine Reading

Have your reading habits and choices changed during the Covid-19 Quarantine?  After realizing that mine have, I asked several BHPL staff to write a paragraph about what’s happening to them.  Starting with me, in the very beginning I simply couldn’t find a book that held my interest for more than twenty or thirty pages.  I didn’t like the characters, story, writing, or anything else.  I reverted to a few of my favorite authors for several books before I started venturing back out of my reading shell.   Also, I stopped watching news programs on TV or listening to serious news during my trips back and forth to work.  Unfortunately for my ability to sleep soundly, my next choices were several dark, atmospheric mysteries featuring premonitions and really creepy characters.  I was reading more and enjoying it less.  The weather started to improve and I could, in good conscience, declare it time to start my annual summer reading.  If I read hard covers or even paperbacks, my current reading choices are so light and happy they could fly away.  Fortunately, I download my titles so they can’t escape when I turn off the device.  I am reading more and sleeping better.
~Stephanie Bakos

When I was very young I dreamed that I was in a big comfy chair in a log cabin with a fire place, and a cat, and the walls lined with books.  And more books in piles. And a book in my lap and a cup of hot chocolate.  I could spend the rest of eternity snuggled up with a good read. Aaah.  Two months ago, when our lives took a turn, I tried reading a book but it did me no good.  Non-stop media news was all the new storyline I could process.  After 3 or 4 weeks of learning new rules and practices, while gorging on breaking news, I felt starved for a story about something else.  Even then it took a lot of looking to settle on Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.   I won’t say much about it, but if the time comes when you don’t know what to, read this.  This one book was all it took to set me back on track  and rekindle my reading dream. I fixed up a cozy reading nest with lots of pillows, a blanket, a stack of books, a cat, and, this time, a glass of wine.  Aaah.
~Laura Fuhro

Little did I know when I picked up Chris Bohjalian’s latest novel The Red Lotus that I would be reading a fictionalized, prophetic version of our current situation.  Being a fan of his writing, I had placed a hold on the book not really paying attention to the plot… a biologically engineered pathogen ready to be released by unscrupulous scientists to create a worldwide plague.  It was a slow read, but eerily riveting. Unfortunately, this slowness has become a pattern.  My reading has slowed down and has even become distracted during this time. For someone who works at a library and has access to thousands of books, I am also given many books as gifts by family and friends.  Adding to that, I love to browse, or should I say purchase, at independent and used bookstores.  I decided to focus on the  books from my own shelves, bedside piles and Kindle.  As I looked through the these titles, I saw that they held wonderful memories.  Reminiscing had me picking up books and flipping through, but not really reading them.  At work I read a review of an upcoming novel that sounded interesting.  I saw the author had published previously so I downloaded Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev from hoopla and read it on my phone in two days.  Amazing, perhaps I am out of my slowness rut.  Currently throughout the house I have many half-started or half-finished books depending on how you look at it.  Is it because I’m not focused and my mind wanders to happier, freer times when I acquired these books? Is there just one more chore I need to do around the house before I can sit and read? Or is it that I am asked twenty times a day “What’s for dinner?”.
~Ann-Marie Sieczka

Due to almost everything being closed due to COVID-19, I thought "Great! Now I will have more time to read books!" It's not exactly worked out that way. In some ways, I feel that I have less "me" time because my family is together more with few opportunities for us to run off to do our own things. We do more things together than before, e.g. taking walks, eating, watching movies and TV. I have made some changes in terms of my reading habits; I’m reading newspapers and magazines more (and not just articles about the coronavirus!). I've been reading more variety: I read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and listened to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (both novels) and I also have 2 non-fiction books (one print and one ebook) on my to-read list. The biggest change has been making an effort to read 1-3 chapters of a book most nights before going to sleep. Hopefully, even when we get back to "normal", some of these new reading habits will stick.
~Lisa Wernett

Monday, May 18, 2020

May 14, 2020

Time does fly and having fun may or may not be part of the equation. A recent Facebook post reminded everyone that BHPL just celebrated the 2nd anniversary of our arrival at 110 Roosevelt Avenue. Unfortunately, we closed for service in mid-March and our re-opening date is not yet known. Planning has already started, focusing on keeping the public and staff safe and an orderly return to normal, if modified, services.

Let me catch you up on what’s been happening. Having never been involved in anything more complex than remodeling a kitchen, meetings with the Architect, MAST, furniture vendors and IT companies have been interesting, informative, and sometimes confusing. Working with all BH Department Heads has been an exercise in cooperation, learning more about how we all function to serve the public, and just enough levity and occasional competition. Committees of Library Board members have spent hours with our furniture vendor, planning how each section of the new building will best suit an audience ranging in age from just born to seniors. Also, Board Committees have focused on the technology needed now and trying to predict the future. Perhaps the fun part of time flying has been visiting other libraries. Big or small, each library we toured offered ideas on what to do and what not to do. Thank you to all of the staff who answered our questions and provided tours.

During the quarantine staff has been busy preparing to re-open and preparing to move again. When the quarantine first started, we extended library cards that were about to expire, removed holds from all materials, and tried (with limited success) to stop overdue notices. One of my tasks was to change the master calendar by first closing the rest of March, then the month of April, then the month of May and the beginning of June. Guessing when the quarantine will end has become my version of calendar whack-a-mole.

Our next major focus will be when and how we can welcome you back. Thank you to everyone for taking advantage of our digital offerings. Also, be sure to try Freegal and create your own playlist or download some albums. Stay tuned for our next new digital offering scheduled to start June 1st.

Be safe.
~S. Bakos

Monday, November 26, 2018

Berkeley Heights Public Library Survey Results: Summary of Key Findings

1.    What is the age of the person completing this survey?

?  A total of 504 surveys were completed representing 3.6% of the population
?  54% of the surveys were completed by people in the 26-54 age group and 45% were over the age of 54

2.    If you are responding to this survey for members of your household in addition to yourself,  please indicate their ages.

Combined with the ages of people who completed the survey, the results indicated that there were 1,115 total responses representing the following age groups:

                 Age Group                     No.

·         Under 12                       230
·         12-17                             124
·         18-25                               48
·         26-54                             405
·         55-69                             180
·         70+                                128

3.    Are you a resident of Berkeley Heights?

?  97% were residents
?  Of those who were not residents, the reasons for using the Berkeley Heights P.L. included a welcoming staff, work in Berkeley Heights and the library’s collections.

4.    How often do you visit the Berkeley Heights Public Library?

?  Nearly 70% of the respondents visit the library at least once a month
?  23% visit the library a few times a year
?  Only 19 responded that they never use the library

Note:  While some residents only use the library a few times a year, keep in mind that residents appreciate the library when they have the occasion to use it.  Someone commented on Question 12:  “The library is vital to the community. While we only use it for a few services, the wide range of services offered need to be maintained and expanded to serve everyone.”

5.    If you never use the library or if you only use the library’s electronic resources (such as Overdrive and the online catalog), please tell us why and then skip to question 10.

The most cited reason for not using the library included:

?  Location of temporary facility
?  Use of the library’s electronic resources from home
?  Waiting for a more modern, digital library
?  Equate use of the library with use by their children

The most cited reason for not using the library included:
It is interesting to note that after reading the possible responses to the questions regarding collections and services, a few of the respondents indicated that they would make it a point to now go to the library.

6.    When you come to the library, how long do you usually stay?

?  Nearly half of the survey respondents were at the library for 1—30 minutes
?  26% stayed for between 30 minutes and 1 hour

7.    Which of the library’s collections are important to you and members of your household? (Check all that apply)

?  Print books were by far the most popular, particularly for adults (70%) and children (38%)
?  Over 50% of the respondents are interested in best sellers
?  27% favored print books for young adults and 24% for teens
?  Other popular collections included DVDs (36%) and digital media (35%)
?  Less popular collections were Audiobooks on CD (19%), music CDs (8%) and print reference books (14%) 

Subject areas mentioned in the comments included history, cookbooks, classics, educational reference, self-help, business reference, biographies, science, and genealogy.

Other comments included blu-ray discs, foreign language books, baby books and toys and puzzles in the children's library. 

8.    What library services are important to you and members of your household? (Check all that apply)

?  The library’s website and reserving books were important services by nearly 2 out of 3 respondents
?  The ILL service 50% and the library’s wi-fi (38%) were also important
?  Several other services were highly regarded including:
·         Children’s programs
·         Access to research databases
·         Computers in the library
·         Photocopiers
·         Adult programs

In the comments section, several respondents mentioned they were interested in movies at the library.  Others were interested in quiet study space and a dedicated meeting room for community events.

9.    Check the collections and services that you and members of your household have used in the past 2 years, either at the current temporary library or the former library on Plainfield Ave.

Library patrons enjoyed a wide range of services that included:

?  Borrowed books - 442
?  Checked the library’s website - 263
?  Borrowed DVDs - 251
?  Used ILL service - 224
?  Received readers advisory service from staff - 195
?  Downloaded eBooks or audio books - 172
?  Used library’s wi-fi - 171
?  Sought reference help - 152
?  Read magazines/newspapers - 150
?  Borrowed audio books - 130
?  Used the photocopier - 124
?  Attended children’s programs - 117
?  Accessed the Internet on a library computer - 105

10.   Which of these collections and services would you like to see the library offer / improve /   expand?   

?  Patrons overwhelmingly want more items to borrow including books, DVDs and downloadable books/music
?  Patrons also want more programs for adults and for school-aged children
?  21% would like to have self-checkout (although 3 people commented that they preferred the human interaction with staff over self-checkout)

In the comments, patrons are interested in a larger collection of new books/best sellers, museum passes and audio books.  A few mentioned meeting room space available for library and community programs. 

Below is a word cloud that shows the 20 words that appear most frequently in the comments section:

11.   In the past 2 or 3 years, what other public libraries in the area did you or members of your household regularly use?

The top three other libraries patrons visited were:

?  New Providence
?  Long Hill
?  Summit

Many people indicated that they used other libraries when the BH Library was closed.  Otherwise, the most popular reason was a larger collection and newer titles and more quiet study space.

12.  What would you like to tell us that we have not already asked you about the Berkeley Heights Public Library?

     There were 178 responses; over 1/3 of the respondents took the time and effort to comment.  The overwhelming majority of the comments were praise for the library and the staff.

The most often stated comments regarding collections and services included:
?  Larger print collections, especially books
?  More newer titles
?  More downloadable digital titles
?  More community and library programs for all ages
?  Enhanced program of service for children
?  More technology including iPads and tablets for use in the library
?  Museum passes

With respect to the library facility, several respondents stated they are looking forward to moving into the new facility, although there were a few comments expressing concern about the location and smaller size being planned.  In particular respondents said they want:

?  Adequate meeting rooms for community engagement
?  Space for both quiet and group study
?  Space for teens separate from the children’s area
?  Design the new library with lots of windows
?  Outdoor play area for kids

Other relevant single cited comments/suggestions included:

?  Phone call or text to remind of an overdue item
?  Reading nooks in the library
?  More staff picks
?  Return the book sale
?  Form a Friends of the Library group
?  Maker space; 3-D printer
?  One-on-one tech help for patrons
?  Longer loan period for new books
?  More outreach to teens
?  Bus stop at the library
?  Publish updates about the status of the new library
?  Art gallery in the new library
?  Design new library to be a technology and community center
?  Expand movie programs; include closed captioning
?  Ability to pay overdue fees online
?  Longer hours

The 20 words that appear most frequently in the comments

Monday, September 10, 2018

Life at 110 Roosevelt

The book drop has arrived, the book drop has arrived.  No, the British are not coming, but the book drop has arrived.  This is the last major milestone of the move from 290 Plainfield Avenue to 110 Roosevelt Avenue.  Several smaller milestones, perhaps only milepebbles, are still to be accomplished.

It is safe to say that we are so settled in the convent/rectory that no large pieces of furniture have been moved recently and the electrician has not been called again to install more light fixtures.  We understand that we can safely hang out a second floor window to clean the drains in the flat roof sections or, if we decide to stay safe and dry, where to put the buckets to catch the water dripping through the ceiling in the back hall.

The Recreation Department staff is now occupying three rooms on the upper level.  No one expected them to be evicted from the blue house so quickly.  Getting their phone number and extensions transferred has evolved into one of the milepebbles referred to earlier.  Patience truly is a virtue when dealing with the various service providers involved.

Reaction to the building has been varied.  A patron who has been visiting the library since she was a small child came in with her grandchildren last week.  She was absolutely enchanted by the coziness and loved how carefully the collections had been scattered throughout the spaces.  Also last week, a patron stopped me in a store to tell me the building is claustrophobic and how she felt like she was intruding in a private home when she walked from room to room.  The reaction from many people is a pleasant surprise at how much we managed to squeeze into the smaller space.  The reaction from some people is displeasure that we didn’t bring their favorite book.  I am occasionally surprised when the first title in a series went into storage but the next seven titles are here.  When dealing with over 75,000 items I think we did fairly well.

We were purchasing new books, DVDs, audio books and downloadable titles even while the library was closed.  The focus was bestsellers and series titles so the New Book shelves would be ready for re-opening.  The focus has since expanded, but we are still purchasing cautiously with an eye on available space.  Titles that are considered NBNE (nice but not essential) or received mediocre reviews are not making the cut.  Be sure to ask for a request slip if you don’t find what you’re looking for.  We’ll check the reviews, check the catalogs of nearby libraries or, depending on the age of the book, try Interlibrary Loan.  More patrons are trying ebooks and eaudio from Hoopla and OverDrive.  Try it, you might like it.

The actual distance between 290 Plainfield and 110 Roosevelt is minimal.  It is right around the corner or a pleasant walk through the woods and over the bridge.  The difference between the two locations seems much larger – from a busy street to a quiet wooded site with frequent visits from the local deer population.  The cozy feel encouraged us to start a community jigsaw puzzle – one or two people are frequently sitting in the puzzle room looking puzzled.

Stop in soon if you haven’t been here yet.  Regular hours, including 2 - 5 on Sundays, started after Labor Day and will continue through June.
~S. Bakos