By John Burton
OCEANPORT – The staff of the borough’s public library are happy to have a home.
“It feels great to be here,” said Katie Kenny, the library’s manager, as the library facility, which is part of the county library system, began operating in the borough community center, 8 Iroquois Ave., on Friday, Feb. 28. “We’re delighted to be able to use this space.”
It has been a tough time for the library – and other borough services, too – since Super Storm Sandy in October 2012. The library, like the rest of borough hall, 222 Monmouth Blvd., was significantly impacted by the storm. The library’s collection of approximately 15,000 items – books, DVDs, CDs, periodicals –was ruined when more than 2 feet of water flooded the facility. Equipment, including the library’s computers, was also damaged, according to Judi Tolchin, interim director for the Monmouth County Library.
The damage meant closure of the library until July 2013 when borough hall reopened. Now that borough hall has been deemed “substantially damaged” by a recent engineering report, the move to the community center became necessary. The library, like other municipal offices and services, may be in temporary quarters for the next three to five years, officials said.
Borough workers gave the community center a new coat of paint and installed the bookshelves. Staff and volunteers took responsibility for cataloging the approximately 10,000 new items that now constitutes the library’s collection.
“It was a huge undertaking cataloging 10,000 items,” Tolchin said.
When Tolchin went to the new location on opening day, she “peeked in the window and saw all the books” and exclaimed ‘It’s a library!’”
The Oceanport library staff relied on the county system to reach out to its other branches to contribute duplicate items to replace the library’s collection. Also helping was a $1,942 donation received from the New Jersey Library Association last Sept. 25, as well as an insurance payment and the continuing assistance and support of the Oceanport Library Association and its president, Linda Risden, the women said.
“There is a very strong commitment to the library in this community,” Tolchin said.
The community relies on its library, Kenny said. Residents have come to count on the location for not only books and recordings, but also access to computers and its Internet connection.
Many families also look to the library for its children’s programs, offered every Thursday, said Florence Diller, the children’s librarian.
Borough resident Joan Lennon, one of the first to arrive on the library’s first day in the center, appreciated the effort and the new location.
“This is a very nice room. It’s sunny, it’s bright,” Lennon said as she walked around the library.
Lennon was joined by her regular Thursday library companion, her 4 1/2-year-old grandson, Murphy Lennon. Murphy loves the books and spending time here, Lennon said.
“This library has been very important to his learning,” with Diller and the other staff members contributing to his and other children’s enjoyment, she said. “These ladies do extend themselves.”
The Oceanport Library has been a member of the Monmouth County Library System since 1967, one of 13 branches in the county.
The library’s hours are: 1 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays; 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays. It is closed Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.