Township library reopens with vaccinated staff

Capacity restrictions will be in place, with masks required

The Margaret E. Heggan Library has been under strict procedures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Signs are now placed on the front lawn of the library to announce that the library will finally open to the public once again on Saturday, May 1.

The Margaret E. Heggan Public Library in Washington Township will reopen on May 1 after a long pause caused by COVID-19.

The library has offered curbside pickup of materials six days a week since it closed.  Visitors were allowed inside the library only if they had appointments and were Heggan  card holders. The library offered only a small number of materials for checkout. 

“We haven’t been open because we were waiting for New Jersey to make library workers a priority … We just found out in late March that we are eligible for the vaccine,” said Library Director Sheila Mikkelson.

“Even though we have been partly essential and had to be open, we were not deemed essential to get the vaccine,” she added. “Now that the majority of the staff has been vaccinated, we feel much safer with allowing the public to come in unregulated.“

The Jersey String Band will perform outside the library on reopening day. The facility’s new hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with capacity restrictions and no inside seating .The library will offer the hour between 11 a.m. to noon to those most at risk from COVID. Curbside pickup will still be available through April 30.

“We have a capacity limitation on how many people can be in the building at one time,” said Mikkelson. “So if it turns out (if) we have a ton of people here that morning, at least they can social distance outside and enjoy the string band while they are waiting to come in.”

Although the library will offer more services, mask wearing will be strictly enforced. . Computer services will still be available.

“We need them to come in and get their materials and not linger,” Mikkelson explained. “We have capacity requirements, and typically, we are a very busy library. So in order to give enough time for each person, we are going to ask people to limit their stay to an hour.”

The library will still offer virtual programs such as children’s storytime, book clubs and  online classes. 

To learn more about library hours and programs, visit https://www.hegganlibrary.org.