Credits: Kristie Cattafi, Staff Writer – NorthJersey.com
Hasbrouck Heights Library Director Mimi Hui is working with the community and keeping up with technology that has the library constantly transforming and trying to shake the stigma of it being just a place for books.
The Hasbrouck Heights library, located upstairs in the municipal building on the Boulevard, has been a staple in the community for residents of any age and a safe haven for parents and children this summer with their programs and guest authors.
Hui is working with the school district and Superintendent Dr. Mark Porto to continue the library's summer success with programs like the chess club and visiting authors into the new school year. One of the library's missions is to have every child in the school district have their own library card.
"It's the most important thing in their book bag," Hui said.
The library has been working with Porto and has been collaborating with the schools to see how to divide and conquer the project. Before school began the library hosted a table at back-to-school night to touch base with parents.
Hui also stressed that a library card accesses much more than inside the walls of the library.
"People need to know that the resources are beyond these walls and at all hours," she said. "The power of a library card is tremendous."
A library card grants web access to databases that can be accessed from a computer at home or at the library to literary criticism, health and science articles and newspaper and magazines. People can also renew borrowed books online, track what they have read and already checked out and a new computer database system is being put in place with a much more extended catalog. People can also access every issue of the New York Times from their first issue.
"If you want to see what the paper looked like the day President Abraham Lincoln died you can," Hui said.
The library has been adapting to keep up with new technologies. It is offering eBooks that can be downloaded for free online and also working with the New Jersey State Library with a campaign for publishers to make more eBooks available for libraries.
The library also offers free Wi-Fi.
"Sometimes people are here from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. using the Internet access," Hui said.
During the children's sleepover in August, Hui said she saw people on the benches outside of the municipal building accessing the Wi-Fi and watching a movie. Another man was in his car working on a business report and asked if he could use the printer.
At 11:30 a.m. on a Monday the library already had people studying, reading newspapers, surfing the book shelves and accessing their computers with more people filing in.
Hui said one of the biggest challenges right now is the age gap with the patrons. She said people that use the library range from parents with their kids to well-seasoned seniors and college students, but there is a gap with people in their 20s to 40s.
"Right now we are finding that people are too busy working or raising a family and don't have the time to stop at the library right now," she said.
The library is finding solutions by adding more programs at different times and even has concerts. Volunteers can also join Friends of the Library and Jr. Friends of the Library, which offers an opportunity to get children involved with helping at a young age.
Authors visited the library over the summer including "Freaky Friday" author Mary Rogers. Although the book is 40 years old, Hui said it is still relevant and hit a chord with the teens and parents. Rogers was brought in as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Friends of the Library program. Hui said the age range of people in the audience was from tweens to adults.
The library also Skyped with Wendy Mass, author of a "Mango Shaped Space." Mass was in Upstate New York at a family party. The video feed was featured on flat-screen televisions in the library with a laptop. Children had a chance to talk with Mass and ask her questions.
"It was great that she took time out of her busy schedule," Hui said. "She also sent a strong message for the kids about if they want to be a writer to be persistent and to continue writing, to deal with constructive criticism, as well as how literature and reading are so important."