• Joseph F. Berenato

Hammonton Library open with limitations

Hammonton Library reopened its doors to the public for first time since March

Greeter Juliana Barse counts each patron who enters and exits the library. THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.

On July 6, the Hammonton Branch of the Atlantic County Library System (ACLS) reopened its doors to the public for the first time since March.


“We’re excited to finally be open again,” said Lisa Warker, Senior Information Assistant for the ACLS.


Warker said that, in order to be in compliant with regulations, a number of changes have been instituted.


“We’re only allowing the branches to operate with 25 percent capacity as mandated by the state. For Hammonton, that’s equivalent to 25 people. They must wear masks and maintain the social distancing,” Warker said.


Warker said that, in an effort to encourage contactless interactions, the library offers curbside pickup.


“We started with that first, because people were really missing their materials. They can place holds electronically, or they can call, then they can pick up their materials that will be set out on a table so it’s contactless. They can call once they get to the library, and then we’ll run their materials out to them. They can pick it up on the table or a designated spot. This way, nobody has to touch anybody’s hands or anything. It’s totally contactless,” Warker said.


Warker said that returned materials should be placed in the drop box outside of the library. Any returned materials are quarantined for three days.


Library patrons are also encouraged to request items in advance so that they are ready when the patron arrives.


“They can come in and pick them up also—it’s not limited only to curbside pickup—so they can come in and pick up their holds. We’re just trying to keep it safe for everybody, and allow everybody to come in. If I have 25 people walking around for an hour, then I’ve got a line outside. We’re just trying to keep it brief and limit their browsing,” Warker said.

Computer usage has also been restricted. Chairs have been removed and stations shut down to encourage social distancing between computers, and use time is limited to 30 minutes by appointment only.


“You can call ahead and reserve it, but we would like it kept to 30 minutes at a time. If you had to, you can come back or ask if you can use it for an extended period, but we’re really not trying to let a lot of people do that. We do have people who need it for job applications, so we’re trying to limit it. You’re more than welcome to bring in your laptop, but, again, we’re going to ask that you keep your visit as brief as possible,” Warker said.


One new feature that Warker noted, available at the Hammonton branch as well as the others in the system, is the introduction of a grab-and-go craft.


“They’re pre-packaged, and patrons can pick them up when they come in to visit. It’s a little, simple craft, a little something different for the kids. Hammonton is big even with adult ones. They’re in a bag and they’re packed, and all the supplies are in there. Just grab it and go. Pick up your books, pick up your holds, pick up some videos and a craft while there, and go have a good time,” Warker said.


Warker said that all in-library programming is canceled for the foreseeable future, so more attention has been focused on the library’s online offerings at atlanticlibrary.org.


“You can sign up for our newsletter there, and we really encourage that because we try to get it out every couple of weeks just to highlight what we have new, or different databases you may not have known about or used in a while, new materials, things like that ... You can get e-books and audiobooks; put a hold on it and download it, and you don’t even have to come into the library. We have videos and different databases. We just upped our selection of magazines. We have Acorn TV, and you can get a ton of British shows free; all you need is your library card,” Warker said.


Warker also noted that the ACLS has recently started promoting its YouTube channel.


“On it, different librarians have done story times or sang songs for the kids, because the kids are really missing that—and parents, too. We have easy crafting ideas there. We have some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects on there, and story time. It’s a little hodge-podge of everything, and it’s growing every day; there’s more added to it,” Warker said.


The Hammonton Branch—along with the ACLS’s three other main branches in Egg Harbor Township, Galloway and Mays Landing—is open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The remaining five branches in Brigantine, Egg Harbor City, Pleasantville, Somers Point and Ventnor are open during the same hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They all have curbside pickup on Saturday.


For more information, call (609) 561-2264.