Little Egg Harbor Library Slated to Reopen in January

By Pat Johnson | Dec 04, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson The Tuckerton branch of the Ocean County Library has been absorbing some of the traffic from the Little Egg Harbor branch since it was closed for repairs Oct. 14.

Little Egg Harbor — When an electrical transformer blew in front of the Ocean County Library branch located on Mathistown Road in Little Egg Harbor, it created a power surge that knocked out the entire electrical system of the library, necessitating it to close for extensive repairs. Since the event on Oct. 14, library patrons have scrambled to find resources, programs and comfort in other branches of the Ocean County Library System. The good news is that the Little Egg branch is slated to reopen mid-January, according to spokeswoman Kate Sanchez. “And if there is a silver lining, it has given patrons the opportunity to explore other branches,” she said.

Many of Little Egg’s library patrons found the Tuckerton branch at 320 Bay Ave. in Tuckerton, and the normally slow pace of the little library quickened considerably. Cindy Simerlink, branch manager of the Tuckerton Library, has been coping with help from two displaced Little Egg librarians and a “shelver” – that doubled her own work force.

“It was very exciting the first few days as everyone scrambled, but then it unfolded into weeks and months,” said Simerlink on Monday. “I checked the numbers after the first few days, and the traffic was 2½ times higher after the disaster.”

The Tuckerton branch was not built to handle as many patrons as the more spacious Little Egg Harbor branch – it is a cozy library, the oldest in Ocean County. The original one-room Tuckerton Library was built in 1875 and moved by flatbed truck to the donated site on Bay Avenue in 1971. A larger library room and a children’s wing were added, as well as two handicap-accessible restrooms. The Tuckerton Library has just six computers for public use, although one is reserved for children and one for a scanner. (Little Egg has double the number.) Still, there has not been too long a wait for people. “We are seeing a lot of people with laptops using the WiFi,” she said.

Some programs scheduled for Little Egg Harbor had to be cancelled, but many were accommodated, she said. “Whatever was scheduled in Little Egg could move here except for the paid performers; they will be rescheduled for later dates.

“It’s been really rewarding to be here for Little Egg patrons. The bridge club meets here once a month, as does the mah jongg club; the knitting group meets here. The children’s librarian from Little Egg, Donna Majchurzak, has brought her programming here, and I’ve been observing that. She has a Mother Goose story time and plans Hanukkah and Kwanzaa programs. I’m not a children’s librarian – I have been a teen librarian – so it’s interesting for me to observe her programs.”

Maggie Williams, head circulation librarian for Little Egg Harbor, has also moved to the Tuckerton branch for the time being.

“It was interesting to shoehorn all the available staff in here – we didn’t have enough chairs at first. But it’s good to have the staff to help with the increased patrons,” said Simerlink.

“People have been experiencing our library who haven’t been here in a while. One woman came in and said, ‘My goodness, what a cute little library,’ but I wish I had a nickel for every patron who asks, ‘When is Little Egg Harbor going to reopen?’ Patrons from both branches say, ‘I want my library back.’”

— Pat Johnson

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