NPL Announcements

Newark Public Library and the Coronavirus



Staff Update

Covid19 Testing

It is now time to begin our next round of Covid19 testing. Staff who were tested in May, June and early July need to be retested in the next two weeks, providing HR with documentation of testing or results by Friday, August 14. Staff who were tested later in July need to plan to be retested no later than one month after their previous test, and to provide documentation of testing or results to HR no later than two weeks after the one month anniversary of their previous test.

Newark resident testing sites have been updated but are still plentiful. Non-residents may still use the City Health Center at 394 University Avenue. Tests from any other qualified medical provider are acceptable.

Covid19 Reminders

Face masks must be worn at all times in Library buildings and social distancing and frequent hand washing must be practiced. City and State regulations require face masks to be worn outside as well whenever social distancing is not possible. Face masks must cover the nose and mouth at all times. The focus is now on face masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing as the primary means to control the spread of Covid19. There is less focus on surface cleaning as a means to control the spread of Covid19.

Main Library Abatement Work and Curbside Service

Abatement work has been completed at the Main Library and abatement clearance was received on Friday, July 31. Staff may enter the Main Library as of Monday, August 3. The Main Library Reopening Committee and Supervisors will schedule staff this week to prepare for Main Library curbside service. Main Library curbside service is expected to begin on Monday, August 10.

All Staff Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, August 5, at 2:30 PM

As a reminder, there will be an all staff zoom meeting to introduce Joslyn Bowling Dixon as the new Library Director on Wednesday, August 5, at 2:30 PM. Staff may submit questions for Joslyn to Tom Ankner ( For zoom access information, see Intranet tutorials or contact IT for assistance.

2020 Annual Leave Carryover

Owing to the Covid19 pandemic, staff will be permitted to carry over one half of their 2020 vacation allotment to be used in 2021.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Staff Update

                                                           Main Library Status, Projected Curbside Date and Temporary Staff Access to Main Library

         It was projected that hazardous materials abatement in the Philip Roth Personal Library construction project area and the Centennial Hall Air Conditioning replacement project area would be completed by the end of this week and that staff would be able to enter the Main Library as of Monday, July 27, to begin to prepare for the introduction of curbside service as of Monday, August 3. This abatement work is completed and protection materials are being removed from those areas.

         However, clogged storm drains on the roof over the library stack building caused a large section of the plaster ceiling to fall in stack six, near the entrance from the hallway outside the VTC room. As part of the abatement process, this area must be abated or enclosed so that no more of the existing ceiling plaster can fall into stack six. We are working on several alternative methods to solve the problem. Some are very expensive and time consuming, while others may be much less expensive and can be completed more quickly.

         Our abatement permit does not allow most staff into the building while abatement is taking place, so even though the abatement area is now limited to the stack building and stack six in particular, the entire building is off limits during any abatement process. In the worst case, staff will not be able to enter the building until August 10 and curbside service could not begin until August 17. We hope to avoid this extended delay, and will keep you informed as further decisions are made.

         In between the two periods of active abatement, there will be a brief window when staff will be able to enter the building on Monday, July 27, and Tuesday, July 28. Supervisors may schedule staff to visit the building to review the status of areas which need to be set up for curbside service, and to start moving things into place.

Thank for your patience and understanding as we cope with this new hurdle, but we are dealing with it in the same spirit of caution and concern for the health and safety of all staff and public.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Staff Update

                                                                  Branch Participation in City Census Assistance and Possible City Covid-19 Testing

         A limited number of staff will begin to return to all 7 neighborhood branches on Monday, June 29, 2020 from 11 am to 3 pm to prepare. All 7 locations will begin to provide curbside service on Monday, July 6, 2020 from 11 am to 3 pm.

         The Library was approached by the City with a request to use outside spaces for Pop-Up Census Sites. North End, Springfield, Weequahic and Van Buren were identified as possible sites because of parking lots or large outdoor spaces. Use of outdoor spaces is permitted in the curbside service phase of library reopenings. Weequahic was ruled out because the parking lot is being used for the curbside service delivery area. North End, Springfield and Van Buren were reviewed with City representatives, and were determined to be suitable. Branch Managers at these three sites were informed about this program. The service will take place on Wednesday and Friday from 11 am to 2:30 pm during the month of July. The Maintenance person onsite will open the gate at 10:30 am, allowing City workers access to the sites to set up. The security person onsite will assist with maintaining order in the curbside pickup area and the pop-up census area. Masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed.

         The City has also set up numerous pop-up covid-19 testing sites throughout the City. The three library sites which had been identified as suitable for pop-up census sites were also reviewed as possible sites for once a week pop-up covid-19 testing sites with City representatives. Springfield was judged as not being suitable because of the lack of separate access to two distinct areas for census assistance and covid-19 testing. North End and Van Buren were identified as being suitable. Van Buren has since been removed from consideration. No final agreement between the City and the Library on dates for a possible pop-up covid-19 testing site at North End has been reached.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



NPL Branch Reopening

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director




         As the Newark Public Library begins to move forward with its reopening plans, please view or download the current version of the NPL Guide for Preparing to Reopen which applies to all Library locations.

         A limited number of staff will begin to return to all 7 neighborhood branches on Monday, June 29, 2020 from 11 am to 3 pm to prepare. All 7 locations will begin to provide curbside service on Monday, July 6, 2020 from 11 am to 3 pm.

         Because of ongoing construction/hazardous material abatement at the Main Library, the process is not able to start at this location on Monday, June 29, 2020. It is anticipated that a limited number of staff may be able to return to the Main Library no later than Monday, July 13, 2020 to prepare, and that curbside service may begin at the Main Library no later than Monday, July 20, 2020. These dates will be confirmed or updated when we are sure when the construction/hazardous material abatement process will be completed.

         I am happy that we are able to move forward in this reopening process with great care and concern for the health and safety of all staff members, as well as for the many community members who are eager to resume using Library services.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Covid-19 Testing- Further Information

Further Information about Covid-19 Staff Member Testing

All staff members may be tested for Covid-19 through the collection of an appropriate sample through nasopharyngeal swab, oral swab, saliva collection, or other FDA approved collection procedure. The test can be administered by the City of Newark or other qualified medical providers within 30 days of returning to the workplace.

Since many staff will be recalled to work starting June 29, the 30 day period would extend back to May 29. It is acceptable if you provide a test result for a test taken anytime between May 24 through May 30, and any time after that.

The antibody test is not acceptable. It must be the Covid-19 test.

Telephone results are not acceptable. You must provide a written report to HR.

Staff members who do not reside in Newark are welcome to visit the Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center at 394 University Ave for a free test. No insurance is required. Staff members just need to identify themselves as NPL staff members who are complying with the City requirement for a Covid-19 test before returning to work. Walk up testing is available Monday-Friday from 9am to 3pm. No appointment is needed. Masks and gloves are required.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Reopening the Newark Public Library

On Friday, June 12, 2020, the Governor announced that libraries could begin their reopening processes starting on Monday, June 15, 2020.

Our NPL Reopening committee is scheduled to complete work on our draft plan this week.

We hope to provide curbside or sidewalk pick up service at one or more Library locations starting on July 6. In anticipation of this move,
we plan to start bringing in some staff members during the week of June 29. The return of Main Library staff and the beginning of service at the
Main Library will depend on the completion of the hazardous material abatement work which has begun as part of the construction of the Philip Roth Personal Library in conjunction with the replacement of the air conditioning system in Centennial Hall. Some staff members will be able to start working in the service building.

Before returning to work, staff members will be required to have a Covid-19 test and submit the test results to Human Resources. See the attachments sent to all users for details about this requirement and for the locations of 10 testing sites in Newark.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Director Search Process

The Board of Trustees of the Newark Public Library has announced that there are two candidates for the position of Director of the Library. The names of the candidates are listed below as well as the date, time and Zoom meeting details.

Joslyn Bowling Dixon, Deputy Director of the Prince William Public Library System in Virginia

Time: Jun 16, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 959 9169 6414
Password: 09456212

Corey Fleming, Director of the Paterson Free Public Library, New Jersey

Time: Jun 17, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 913 7802 3096
Password: 09456212

         These sessions will also be recorded for viewing by staff members who are not available at the scheduled times. The candidates will be meeting with the Newark Public Library leadership team, Newark Public Library staff, a group of key community stakeholders and the Board of Trustees over the next two weeks in a series of “virtual” discussions and interviews. The candidates were asked to prepare a “fact sheet” to tell NPL staff about themselves. The two fact sheets are attached. Your assessments of the candidates are important to the process. Please complete the online surveys by 5:00 pm Friday June 19th.

         The results of the surveys will be shared with the Board of Trustees. As a reminder, you were all sent a recruitment brochure listing the qualities required in the “ideal” director for the Newark Public Library. This list was put together after many different meetings and discussions with NPL staff, support groups and Trustees. These qualities form the basis of the survey questions, but we encourage you to share any other observations that might be useful to the Board in their deliberations.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Director Search Process

1. Director Search Process

The Search Committee has selected the finalists in the Director Search process. Next week on Mon June 15, Tue June 16, Wed June 17 or Thu June 18, between 2 and 4 pm, there will be zoom meetings for staff to meet the candidates. Prior to the meetings, you will receive resume summaries and more information about how the meetings will be conducted. As soon as the days and times for these meetings are finalized, I will send you that information. I realize that the daily story hour and the Wed Anime program conflict with these days and times, and that others of you will have conflicts with these days and times as well. Hopefully, the majority of the staff will be able to participate. I believe that we may be able to record the meetings and make them available afterwards to staff who are not able to attend the virtual session. Again, more details on this to follow.

There are plans for community representatives to meet the candidates after these staff meetings.
Library Trustees plan to interview the finalists during the week of June 22.

2. Reopening Plans

Both the Mayor and the Governor have listed dates for libraries to start the reopening process. A committee and subcommittee have been working on the process and procedures for our Library. As soon as we have those plans completed, we will share them with you, including target dates for beginning the process and then moving forward in phases.

3. Library Budget

The City has not yet adopted a budget for 2020, so I cannot predict the final outcome for the year. However, based on the additional federal assistance that the Library has received through the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program, we appear to be in a good position to finish the year without any significant reductions to staff, programs and services.

4. Social Media and Virtual Program Statistics

At the Library Board Meeting on May 27, I presented a report on the very significant increase in our social media activity (double, triple and quadruple) and the 300,000 audience for our 165 virtual programs during the first two months of our building closures. I am attaching that report to this update. The Board President gave an extended thanks and appreciation to all library staff for their work during this time and their significant achievements during this two month period.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director




         We received word that our application for the Paycheck Protection Program was approved. This program provides support for 8 weeks of payroll expenses. This should support payroll expenses through July 4. More details to follow on implementation.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director




         The Library has not yet received notification if our application for the Payroll Protection Program has been approved. We will let staff know ASAP when we receive a response. The City has identified a budget gap of over $80 million because of covid19 expenses and revenue losses. They have not received State or Federal aid to cover this gap. They are making plans for budget reductions to cover this gap. The Library has not received any notification of a reduction in City support for the Library. An expanded Library Leadership Team has begun work on detailed planning for reopening the Library to the public gradually in multiple phases. The Governor's current order extends closings through June 6. So the earliest that we could possibly begin our reopening process would be Monday, June 8. We will have to wait and see how this develops. We will begin to share reopening plans as soon as they are developed by our Team.

         The process to search for a new Library Director has continued as planned before we closed to the public. Applications were received by the Library search firm and shared with the search committee. The committee met on Zoom and selected those candidates for first interviews on Zoom. Interviews took place last week and continue this week. The committee plans to recommend finalists to the Library Board. Owing to covid19, I am not sure how we will proceed with final interviews.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Follow Up On Update 6

         In accordance with Staff Bulletin # 6, all staff have been paid through April 30, 2020. This same policy will be continued through May 16, 2020. The City of Newark expects to know more about its costs related to the covid-19 pandemic and losses of revenue, and what amounts of additional support the City may be receiving from the County, State and Federal governments. The Library may need to make adjustments to its budget and payroll depending on this information from the City. In addition,the Library has applied to the Small Business Administration through TD Bank for participation in the CARES Payroll Protection Program (PPP). If the Library’s application is approved, then we will receive funds to support an additional eight (8) weeks of pay for all staff. We will keep you informed about information from the City, as well as the outcome of our application for the PPP program.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



City of Newark Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

         The City of Newark offers a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Magellan Ascend. This program provides easy to access services to assist employees and their eligible dependents with the challenges we are all facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. All calls and counseling sessions are confidential except as required by law. In addition, the EAP offers legal consultation services and useful online tools. Magellan Ascend can be reached 24 hours a day at (800) 424-1865 or via the internet at: Using the Internet, follow these steps to create an account Click the “Log In” button on the top right of your screen. Then, click “Sign up” and complete your profile using your personal or work email address. Why create an account? You need an account to register for counseling sessions, access the full-suite of digital resources, get started with self-care apps and to save information for future reference. Need help? Click the “Live Chat” button on the right or call the technical support phone number. Live Chat is staffed daily from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM CT. The toll-free technical support phone number is 1-800-424-6008 and is staffed daily from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM CT.

In addition to the EAP program, please remember that Jessica Campbell, the library’s social worker, is available for counseling appointments for staff as well as patrons. Please feel free to reach out directly to Jessica to schedule a 20 minute counseling session by phone or Skype. Telephone 973.733.5412 or email

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Work From Home is the New Normal

         Current union contracts contain no language on emergency closures for epidemics or pandemics, nor any language about working from home. Based on messages and orders from the Mayor and Governor, working from home whenever possible is the new norm for the duration of our current Covid-19 closure to the public. Looking at the AFSCME contract Article VI, Section 10 Snow Days and the IUOE contract Article VII, E. Snow Days as models for the compensation of essential workers during this present crisis, bargaining unit staff members who have been asked to come to work at the Library will be paid 1.5 times their regular rate for all hours worked under these conditions. All other bargaining unit staff members who have been asked to work from home will be paid at their regular rate. Bargaining unit staff members who have not been asked to work from home will be credited with PTO (Paid Time Off) for all of their regularly scheduled hours through April 30, 2020, and paid at their regular rate. This situation will be assessed again during the last week of April. For the short term, the Library seeks to avoid any pay reductions, layoffs or furloughs of staff for whom it is not able to assign any work from home assignments at this time.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Governor’s order

         In compliance with the Governor’s order, all locations of the Newark Public Library will be closed to the public until further notice. Full time and part time employees will be credited with PTO, and contract and all other employees will be paid for all regularly scheduled work hours through April 30, 2020. During the last week in April, the Library will assess where we are in relation to possibly reopening to the public and the pay status of all employees. The Main Library will continue to be open to essential staff, as necessary. All staff reporting to the Main Library must sign in and out each day at the Security Desk on the first floor. Essential staff will continue to work from home and from the Main Library. Any staff member may be asked to work from home if there are tasks that can be completed by them from home. Other staff members may be asked to provide essential services at the Main Library if there is a need for additional assistance. Supervisors have been asked to contact each staff member over the next few days to see how individual staff members are doing. They will provide a report on these calls to the Director. Since the Library will be closed for a longer period of time, we are working to develop more virtual programs and services to support our community in this difficult time. Please feel free to provide suggestions to your supervisor. Over the past two weeks while the Library was closed to the public, we maintained reference service by phone, email and text; instituted twice a day Facebook story times from Monday to Friday; provided a new email address for the public to request a new temporary library card, or renewal of an existing library card; began providing phone and text sessions by appointment for the public with our Library Social Worker; updated our website daily with new information messages and new navigation messages so that the public can more easily find the most needed information. A Facilities team visited all 8 library locations for disinfection of all high touch surfaces, plus vacuum, mop and dust all areas and thorough cleaning of rest rooms. Completion of branch carpet cleaning was scheduled for this past week, but was cancelled owing to the three hot spot Covid-19 areas in the City and then the extension of shelter in place to the entire City. The removal of the collapsing parking lot wall at the Weequahic Branch was completed and construction of a new wall is nearing completion. Thank you for your continued cooperation and assistance as we weather this most difficult time for the Library, the City and all of us.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Essential Staff

         Effective Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020, the Main Library will be open to essential staff from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. The Library Leadership Team has designated staff members who need to report for work during this time period, and will designate additional staff members who need to report for work as necessary during this period. Unless you have been informed to report for work by a supervisor, or are later informed to report for work by a supervisor, you will not be expected to report for work and will be credited with PTO for those days. Full time, part time and contract employees will be credited with PTO for all regularly scheduled work hours during this two week period.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Library Closed

         All locations of the Newark Public Library will be closed to the public as of Monday, March 16, 2020 and will remain closed through Saturday, March 28, 2020. There will be another bulletin later this weekend detailing staff assignments during this time period. Thank you for your cooperation and support as we move forward into this most difficult period.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director



Mayor Baraka’s advisory

         In response to Mayor Baraka’s advisory on March 12, 2020 that all nonessential public gatherings be cancelled for the next 30 days, through April 12, 2020, the Newark Public Library is cancelling all public programs and meetings where an audience of 50 or more people could be expected to attend. Smaller programs, meetings and educational classes will continue to be scheduled, but may be reconsidered on an individual case basis.

Thomas J. Alrutz
Interim Library Director

Immediate steps for staff to implement include:

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
4. Stay home when you are sick.
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

        Facilities will continue to use current cleaning supplies for high touch surfaces and areas, but will increase the frequency of cleaning for all high touch areas. High touch areas include door knobs and handles, and computer keyboards and mice. All staff members will need to be involved in the effort to frequently clean high touch areas. Additional cleaning supplies will be acquired and made available for staff to use as needed in high touch areas. The Library will order liquid hand cleaning dispensers for all public building entrances.

Tom Alrutz
Interim Library Director

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