Haddonfield Public Library adjusts to providing services online

Zino, fellow staff committed to serving public in adverse circumstances.

Haddonfield Public Library Director Eric Zino is well-versed in situations that demand immediate and detailed attention. 

His tenure at the venerable institution includes keeping operations going during construction on the library itself several years ago, as well as the various issues related to the relentless spate of storms which swept through the borough last summer, briefly causing some cancellations.

The restrictions put in place by state government due to the coronavirus pandemic are different, but not overwhelming, for Zino, who spoke to the Sun on April 6 about what it takes to keep the library relevant in the online realm. 

“(The closure) applies to the physical building, but the library continues to function. We were originally shuttered from March 15 through the 29, but Gov. Murphy’s subsequent edicts changed all that,” he explained. 

“We’re online now, and we’re doing everything we normally do. We are doing our best as we speak, to provide the public a wide array of listening materials, reading materials, e-books. We are about to start a wide array of online learning services as well,” he said. 

Zino said there’s been no shift in the timing of his role, despite having to coordinate from his home rather than his library office. 

“My days are beginning, as usual, around 6 a.m. Working from home does interesting things to your perceptions of time relative to work and everything else. But it’s something we all have to collectively adapt to,” he mused. 

“The advantage of working from home, is that all staff are participating and collaborating more or less at the same time online.”

The library is aiming to share a host of things of interest to the community on its website, the blog and especially through social media: help with health and wellness concerns, recipes, and promoting various ways to help and do good for others. 

Zino also revealed that the library is going ahead with pre-recorded storytimes for kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a couple times a month, live online storytimes will occur. The next one is expected to take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, called, “Rise and Shine Storytime.”

“Our online sessions also will include things like: staff who recommend books, staffers who cover movie recommendations. April is poetry month so we plan to post a host of poems,” he continued. 

“There will be online meeting sessions as well. Reading groups like our mystery book club, the original library book club, and we’ll have two sessions this month, one for the young adult book club and also the YA book club for adults.”

Zino said there’s no real comparison dealing with the long-term interruptions coronavirus has caused, stacked against the logistical issues which arose from the library renovations and flooding damage. But he assured the public the library will find ways to adapt and thrive.

“Each time we are faced with these challenges, we collectively learn more about how to get through the next interruption. And if we find ourselves in a closure, I expect to switch on a continuation of services given all the things we’ve learned during this situation,” he stated. 

“The main challenge now, is how to keep any type of services going for however long the building is closed. But the preparations we’ve made for this event will certainly put us in good form the next time something unexpected happens.”

Regularly-scheduled library board meetings will proceed each month online, as well, according to Zino. Despite some technical difficulties which caused a rescheduling, the March gathering was ultimately able to take place.

“They will take place online as long as the executive orders will last. But they will be once a month, they will be on Zoom. We will publicize instructions for the public and we will be releasing them on our YouTube channel too, in the interest of keeping everyone informed,” he added. 

“The next meeting is expected to be live, on April 28, and at our usual time of 8 a.m.”

Readers can follow along on the HPL website at www.haddonfieldlibrary.org/, and through its Facebook page @HaddonfieldLibrary, for continuous updates and alerts to all online events, happenings and changes as the situation unfolds.