The Red Bank Public Library is closing for up to four weeks starting Monday as part of its $1.6 million renovation project.

That means no book-borrowing, of course—and a break for anyone with books due for return during the closing. Members, though, will still have accces to the library’s electronic databases from their home computers. And on good-weather days, for those laptoppers who really miss the place, there are some nice benches outside from which you’ll still be able to get wireless access to the Internet via the library’s link.

If you haven’t explored the databases, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of information, including some interesting history. For example, in the New York Times archive, which reaches back to 1851, we recently stumbled on this gem, which was published, it so happens, 100 years ago today:


OK, so you may be thinking, “Nervous persons should stay away from Internet databases requiring passcodes, too.” But these are relatively simple to navigate, and library staffers will be available by phone throughout most of the shutdown period to provide help.

When the construction makes working in the building a risk, library staffers will be hitting the road to visit other libraries, in an effort to compare, learn and polish their skills.

This is from an e-mail we received today from Deborah Griffin-Sadel, the library’s director:

For most of the renovation at least some of the library staff will be in the building to answer the phone, take deliveries, catalog and process books, work on a thorough and long delayed overhaul of our procedure manual and of course prepare for reopening. On most days there should be someone who would be able to answer questions about accessing our databases or other service. Believe it or not, most of the activity at the library takes place behind the scenes even on days when we are open to the public.

On the relatively few days that it will be too dangerous for anyone who is not actively involved with the construction work to remain in the building, library staff will be travelling to other libraries to observe their procedures and policies first hand, taking classes to upgrade their skills and broaden their outlook as to what a modern library is all about and visiting newly restored libraries. As a small library, with a very busy staff, we don’t get much of a chance to see what other libraries are doing. This will be our opportunity to observe and hopefully implement services and practices that have worked well elsewhere. Naturally, we hope to incorporate this knowledge and ideas into our new improved Red Bank Public Library.

Once the major disruptive work on the main floor is completed, we will reopen with a small but select collection of our most popular books, dvds, cds and audio books. We will also have computers up and running for the public. There will probably be a few other times in the project when we will need to close briefly as we move from phase to phase in the project but right now the plan is to get the worst over as soon as possible.

If the construction gods are with us we hope that the project will be fully complete by mid 2007.

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