The stay at home order due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has been extended by Governor Murphy for an additional 30 days, has left many people feeling isolated and has forced the County’s Library doors to remain closed. But the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) wants to remind you that you are not alone – your Library is here for you.
On May 6, SCLSNJ launched a wellness outreach initiative where staff began calling members of the community to check in on their well-being as well as address their questions and concerns. The Library System’s staff was able to connect with over 480 community members on the first day in just a two-hour period.
“The first round of wellness calls was a rousing success,” said Justin Agins, library technician. “One customer even asked me to hold a moment because her eyes were welling up with tears at the thought of Library staff caring enough to call and check on members of the community. She assured me that she and her family were well, that it was just very touching to hear from us.”
While the Library’s buildings must remain closed, SCLSNJ staff is dedicated to finding new ways to make connections with Library customers while obeying current social restrictions. During the wellness calls Library staff is able to reach members of the community who may not be aware of the virtual programs, resources, and services available through SCLSNJ, while also checking in on the well-being of the customers they are used to serving in person.
“Our staff takes pride in establishing meaningful connections with our visitors,” said Crystal Hooper, circulation department supervisor. “This initiative is our shift to offer the services we are known for, and to strengthen our relationships with community members. We miss visiting with our customers and worry about their well-being, especially those who feel particularly lonely during this period of extended isolation.”
“During the wellness calls, Library customers will be able to reserve a one-on-one appointment through the new Ask an SCLSNJ Expert service to help with research and exploring online Library resources, materials, or discovering a new book recommendation; and more,” said Kathy Amberg, circulation supervisor “SCLSNJ staff want to keep the public at the forefront.”
In addition to sharing information about Library offerings, SCLSNJ staff was also able to share information about outside services in the community and lend an ear to those feeling lonely.
“I’m considered high-risk, I live alone, and know how hard it is living in isolation during this crisis,” said Ann Jones, library technician. “It’s so important to know that people care and that’s what the wellness outreach program is saying. I called one woman who had actually lost a close family member to the virus and really needed to talk. It was wonderful to be able to be there for her.”
“I’ve found it enlightening to work with our staff, many of whom I’ve never worked with directly,” said Hooper. “The team making calls genuinely cares so much about this project and want to help our customers with all of their Library needs. We’ve gathered many resources to make this outreach successful and look forward to reconnecting with our customers.”
“Don’t worry if you see a missed call from the Library. We promise there’s nothing wrong! Hold onto your checkouts and don’t worry about fines. We’re just calling to check in because we miss you,” said Lynn Hoffman, director of operations.
SCLSNJ will continue making these phone calls while the buildings remain closed. For more information contact Hooper at email@example.com.
For information about virtual programs, services, and resources #BeSafeAtHome and explore your Library anytime, anywhere: SCLSNJ.org/BeSafeAtHome.