Camden County Library System partially reopens to public

Six branches ready to go, with two smaller ones still closed

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun: Six branches of the Camden County Library System, including the M. Allan Vogelson branch in Voorhees Township, reopened last week to in-person visitors for the first time since March.

Camden County announced last week the partial reopening of its library system for in-person visitors, starting with limited services at the larger branches.

According to the county, this is the first time indoor, in-person services have been available to county residents since all library branches were closed in March because of COVID-19.

“We are very excited to welcome Camden County residents back into our libraries after an unprecedented crisis forced our entire state to make the difficult decision of closing many similar shared spaces,” said Freeholder Melinda Kane.

“Our staff is taking extra precautions to keep patrons safe when they return to our facilities, and we are asking that visitors do their part to keep others safe as well by wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and limiting their time inside of the facility.”

The Bellmawr, Gloucester Township, Haddon Township, South County, Vogelson and Ferry Avenue branches are now open for limited hours Monday through Saturday. They continue to offer no- contact pickup for library patrons, as they have since March. But the county’s Downtown and Merchantville branches have yet to reopen because of their smaller size.

Branch visitors are asked to limit their library time to 30 minutes. They also have to reserve a time slot for computer use in advance of their visit. Temperatures will be taken and masks must be worn.

According to Kane, all open branches have reusable masks on hand for anyone who forgets to bring one.

While the select six branches have partially reopened, Kane also  noted that online resources and virtual events are still offered through the library’s website at www.camdencountylibrary.org. Additional questions can also be answered on the website or by calling ahead to a branch before a visit.

Moving forward, Kane said the county continues to seek guidance from the state health department regarding future phases of library branch reopenings. There currently is no date for reopening the two smaller branches.

“We want visitors to be checking the website for changes, because we want residents to know what the hours are for several aspects of the library,” Kane advised.

“Our hope is, of course, to be able to return back to the level we were at before the pandemic, but I think we’re a fair bit off from that at this moment.”

Before the pandemic, the library system was in the midst of several renovations and changes at several branches, most notably M. Allan Vogelson in Voorhees Township. Several renovations were made during the closure, but not all upgrades have been completed at Vogelson due to furniture being on back order.

Kane said that does not affect current services at the branch. The planned changes at Vogelson were the first major renovations in more than 20 years, according to Kane.