County Library System Reopening July 6 with Limited Capacity; Hours

Posted on July 2, 2020

Nine of the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) 10 branches will reopen with limited customer capacities on Monday, July 6, 2020 at 10 a.m. SCLSNJ’s Bound Brook location will remain closed due to an issue with the HVAC system.

“We are so excited to be coming out on the ‘other side’ of this pandemic and can’t wait to welcome you back,” said Brian Auger, county library administrator. “This whole experience has been a new one for all of us, and we thank you for bearing with us as we work through new ways of doing things.”

HOURS AND SERVICES 

Eight of the System’s 10 branches will be temporarily operating with limited hours, including the Bridgewater, Manville, Mary Jacobs, North Plainfield, Peapack and Gladstone, Somerville, Warren Twp., and Watchung branches.

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Only the Bridgewater and Warren Twp. branches will be open on Sundays.

  • Sundays: 1-5 p.m.

The Hillsborough branch will be temporarily operating with the following limited hours.

  • Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The Bound Brook branch, the Branchburg Reading Station, and the Washington Valley Reading Station will remain closed until further notice.

SCLSNJ’s virtual reference services will remain available through August 1, 2020 to residents who opt to remain at home.

  • Ask an SCLSNJ Expert: Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Ask a Librarian: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The System’s digital resources will remain available to ALL Somerset County residents, whether your library is part of the County System or not, through August 31, 2020. Apply for your free digital library card now at sclsnj.org/besafeathome.

As of July 3, the Library will be suspending all #HandsFreeHolds appointments. As of July 6, all holds will be available for pickup in the branch only, a process that will be made easier and safer for all parties with the release of the System’s new Contact Free Checkout.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

In accordance with state requirements, masks are required to be worn by staff and customers in order to access the Library. Additionally, capacity allowances for each branch location will be at 25% of their norm. The Library is asking customers to temporarily limit their time within the branch to allow the System to offer Library services to as many residents as possible. Lastly, some branches might block off certain service areas as reopening is phased in, for example, there will be no restroom access at the Somerville branch.

“Almost all 10 SCLSNJ branches are ready to open on Monday, July 6,” said Christopher Korenowsky, director of public services. “While none of us has ever experienced an extended closure of this magnitude, or ever tried to work things out during a public health pandemic, I am confident that the hard work of the public library’s administrative and staff teams have prepared our locations to meet the challenges of our times. We did not let this unprecedented closure stop us from offering services that help community members connect, explore, share, and discover. In addition to our virtual programming and reference customer service offerings, Hands Free Holds (our version of Curbside Pickup) is something that SCLSNJ began testing at multiple branches focusing on items that were waiting to be picked up for patrons when the public library closed in March.”

Continued Korenowsky, “we know you are eager to get back to the library, and the library team is looking forward to seeing everyone. The phased approach to reopening may have seemed slow, but it was important to all of us at SCLSNJ that we reopen in a way that maintains a safe and healthy environment for our staff and the public. Welcome back.”

LET’S FLATTEN THE CURVE ON RETURNS

SCLSNJ is working to “flatten the curve” on returns. There are currently about 100,000 items sitting in customers’ hands, but in order to handle returns safely, the Library will not be accepting returns as soon as the doors reopen. Return dates have been extended incrementally throughout the end of August, so please wait until your items are due before you bring them back. Our contactless return process will allow a 72 hour quarantine period before library staff members handle them. That means that checkouts may still appear on your library account for several days after you bring them back. No need to worry — fines will be removed.

“The logistics are different from one branch to another, and in many locations, we won’t be opening up our regular book drop for returns,” said Lynn Hoffman, director of operations. “Each branch will have its own process and location for receiving returns, so look for more information when you arrive.”

To learn more or to receive further assistance, email ask@sclibnj.org.