Superstorm Sandy knocked out power all over Hillsborough, even the municipal building. Closure of the municipal building meant that the Hillsborough Public Library was unable to open as well. The municipal building and library were closed due to lack of power on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the week of the storm. Power was restored to the building on Thursday morning and the library was able to reopen by 11:00am.
Twelve library staff members were able to make it into work and ensure that the building was ready for patrons. With the restoration of power, staff members were able to let patrons know via their website and Facebook page that the library had power and was welcoming patrons, even those who just needed to charge their phone or get warm. Patrons got the message and started coming in on Thursday morning, as soon as the doors opened.
The library soon became a popular resource for powerless residents. Edward Hoag, Director of the library, noted that on the Friday after the storm, over 1,800 people visited the library; this is more than double the amount on a “regular” Friday. And, most people who came stayed the entire time the library was open.
When asked what services patrons most took advantage of during the difficult time following the storm, Hoag stated, “everything”. People were charging their phones and laptops, reading newspapers, checking out books and DVDs, accessing the Internet through Wi-Fi, and using all of the available computers. Many just wanted to stay because it was warm and the staff was friendly. On Friday, the library staff provided numerous activities for children and showed a movie in the afternoon.
Throughout the days following Sandy, the library did what it does best by providing a community center for the township. People were able to visit the library, reconnect with family and neighbors, and utilize the services available in a time a crisis. While many businesses remained closed, the library was open and there for the community.
The entire staff of the HPL stepped up and showed what a valuable resource the public library is for Hillsborough. Hoag praised the staff; he commented that, “While we are always there to serve our community, during this crisis staff showed their dedication and commitment”.