What We’ve Been Doing

MAY 15, 2020

From books to electronic resources, community events to virtual storytimes, and individual reference service to  Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting . . .

In coordination with Borough Hall, the library closed its doors and required staff to work remotely in mid-March, around the same time that the Governor of NJ signed an executive order shuttering public libraries across the state. Despite the limitations this presented for staff, they managed to immediately rally together to create a plan to completely redesign how they would interact with the Highland Park community, how they would provide information and services, and how they would maintain a semblance of sanity, routine, and positivity in the work to which they are so dedicated.

In addition to daily meetings with the Borough leadership team, HPPL staff meets twice each week in order to share ideas, brainstorm, troubleshoot, and collaborate. And we’ll continue to do this to ensure that we are able to provide the best possible service to our community — both now and when our doors eventually reopen when restrictions are lifted. We are actively preparing for expanding services to include things like the return of materials and distributions of holds through contact-less pick-up, but we must continue to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and our community members. We will continue to follow the guidelines of our state and local government as we create plans for a gradual reopening and expansion of services. Situations and timelines seem to change day-to-day, but we’ll keep you informed as we go, once plans are approved.

By working together, and incorporating feedback from our residents, we have been able to put together over 50 programs that have gathered over 1,400 people together to share high-quality virtual content. The library has offered programs ranging from Zumba instruction to live storytimes, cooking demonstrations, eLibrary tutorials, book discussions, and more. There are simple craft tutorials on the library’s Instagram (@hpplnj) and virtual art galleries and concerts from local HP talent posted on our Facebook page each week. And our favorite day of the week is when you share your own pictures with us from your experiences around your neighborhoods!

Library From Home

Highland Park residents are able to obtain a library card through an online form, and check out items from a full catalog of ebooks and audiobooks (including eLibrary, TumbleBooks, and Audio Book Cloud). Cardholders can freely access the NY Times online, Heritage Quest, and a wide range of educational databases. Here, you can also find access to Rosetta Stone, local career assistance, and a wealth of resources designed for students in Grades K-12 and college developed by public and school librarians called The Library is Open. Our librarians are regularly updating new free resources, educational activities, and virtual tours. And updated and quality resources related to public safety and COVID-19 are regularly being updated. You can find all this and more on the newly-created Library From Home webpage, all at your fingertips.

While we recognize how important physical books are to the core service of public libraries, we also believe that we are guided by ensuring access to quality information, as well as a deep commitment to bringing community together, both of which have become even more important during a time of uncertainty and social isolation. Even with our physical doors closed, the Highland Park Public Library is confident in its mission to support the welcoming spaces, engaging programs, and diverse collections that help make Highland Park a better place to live, learn, and work.

We encourage your feedback. General questions and comments are welcome at highlandparklib@gmail.com. You can also reach me directly at kjaggers@hpplnj.org. If you would like a phone call, simply email us your number and a good time to reach you.

Stay safe. Stay well. Keep learning, keep reading, and stay informed.

Kate Jaggers