The Mercer County Library System, which has been operating virtually since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, is currently working on plans to re-open its physical locations. The move follows an announcement by Gov. Phil Murphy on July 2 that libraries in the state are permitted, when ready, to open to the public at 25% capacity.

“Library administration and staff are still working on finalizing details related to safely reopening our doors to the public,” said an MCLS news release. Updates will be posted on the library system’s website as soon as information is available.

Returns of physical media are being accepted 24/7 in drops at all libraries that are part of the MCLS. These include the Lawrence, Ewing, Hickory Corner, Hollowbrook, Hopewell, Robbinsville, Twin Rivers and West Windsor branches.

Extended use fees will not be charged for one month after the MCLS reopens. Online content is available at any time. Videos can be viewed on the system’s YouTube channel.

Contactless pick up of items placed on hold will continue and book donations will not be accepted until further notice.

Meanwhile, the MCLS is offering a number of virtual events throughout the summer. See below for the full set of event listings.

MCLS events for July and August

Trivia Tuesdays. Tuesdays, July 21 and 28, 7 p.m. Play along at home and see how you do. Hosted on the MCLS Facebook page.

What are you reading? Wednesdays, July 15, 22 and 29; and Aug. 5, 12, and 19, 4:30 p.m. Talk about what you’re reading and let everyone know on the MCLS Facebook page.

Library drawing party. Wednesdays, July 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5, 12 and 19, 7 p.m. Join the MCLS for a Library Drawing Party. Have your friends and family meet on the MCLS Facebook page to follow along and try out artistic talents as reference librarian Julia teaches you how to draw new images each week. Then, we invite you to share your finished artwork with everyone in the comments section! This event is for all ages.

Understanding how to use IRAs in retirement. Thursday, July 16, 6:30 p.m. This workshop will be a primer on using IRAs during your retirement. You will learn the difference between a traditional, rollover and a Roth IRA, and when to utilize each one. You will also learn proper ways to list beneficiaries, how to plan for Required Minimum Distribution, how to make this money last a lifetime, and the new rules in place during this period of economic stress. Presented by William M. Greenfield of Wealth Bridge Advisory Services. Registration is required. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

Saturday night movie. Saturdays, July 18 and 25; Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 8 p.m. Experience the thrill of watching a movie on a Saturday night at home. Borrow the featured title from the MCLS Hoopla catalog with your Mercer County Library card and watch it together in the virtual company of your community. Feel free to share your thoughts and impressions in the comments section under the Facebook posting.

Create a… challenge. Sundays, July 19 and 26; Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2:30 p.m. Do you have what it takes to design a unique craft using common household items?
If so, you will love our weekly “Create a…” craft challenge! Hosted on the the MCLS Facebook page.

Nonfiction book blub. Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2:30 p.m. Join us the first Tuesday of each month to discuss a nonfiction book. This month’s title: Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. Hosted on the MCLS Facebook page.

Short story discussion. Wednesday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m. The MCLS will read and discuss a different short story during each session on the MCLS facebook page. The short story– short in length, but full of content. Led by Anna Van Scoyoc, Hopewell Branch. This month’s story: Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. The eBook is available on hoopla, or read it here: tinyurl.com/MCLSShort18.

Penn Medicine: Holistic approach to anxiety. Thursday, Aug. 6, 7 p.m. Many people may be experiencing anxiety, especially during these trying times. Join Perry Herman, MD, FAAP, board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation from Penn Medicine Princeton Health, for this informative session discussing holistic ways that can help manage your anxiety. Online registration required.Visit MCLS’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

MCLS Book Club. Tuesday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m. Join us on Facebook the second Tuesday of every month to discuss some of our favorite titles. This month’s title: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. Visit the Tuesday Night Book Club page and ask to join the group: www.facebook.com/groups/2276798629026097

Top 10 cost-effective home renovation projects. Wednesday, Aug. 12, 3 p.m. Many of us dream of doing the upgrades featured on HGTV and TLC.  Most often, however, the idea of costly renovation expenses scares many people away. The truth is, you CAN have an HGTV perfect home! In this online workshop, we go over the tips and tricks that you can use to immediately implement amazing changes, as well as the top 2020 home renovation trends on a budget. Online registration required. Visit MCLS’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

TED Talks discussion. Thursday, Aug. 13, 7 p.m. We invite you to join us for a discussion of a TED Talk. For those who are new to them, TED Talks are short, powerful, and engaging talks that span a variety of subjects. Each week, we will post the link to a TED Talk video on the MCLS Facebook page.

July and August virtual events for children and teens

Subscribe to Mercer County Library System’s YouTube Channel for new content, added daily.

Storytime. Wednesdays, July 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5, 12, 19 and 26, 10 a.m. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the videos each week.

Mike Rose Magic: “Once Upon a Magic Show.” Fridays, July 17, 24 and 31. Aug. 7, 1:30 p.m. Magician Mike Rose presents a magic show that is not like other magic shows. Mike’s new show, “Once Upon a Magic Show” is created specifically for libraries and is designed to perfectly complement the 2020 Summer Reading theme “Imagine Your Story.” The online performance is made up of seven separate episodes so be sure to check back for each installment! The seven performances consist of impossible magic tricks and off the wall comedy all themed around fairy tales. Sponsored by the Friends of the Hopewell Branch Library. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the videos each week.

Music and movement. Saturdays, July 18 and 25; Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 10:30 a.m. Music and Movement programs are a combination of dancing, singing, yoga poses and play with scarves, shakers, instruments and more.   These programs are guaranteed to get you up and moving along with our youth services librarians!  Suggested for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary age children. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the videos each week.

Children’s author study. Mondays, July 20 and 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 24, 2:30 p.m. Join us as we learn about a new children’s author each week. You will learn facts about the author and take a fast look at books and series the author has written.  In addition there may also be a related craft or activity.  At the end you will see a special video generously provided by the author of the week for our Summer Reading Program. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the videos each week.

Dennis the Magician. Tuesday, July 21, 2 p.m. Online registration required. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

Unique creatures. Thursday, July 23, 10:30 a.m. Online registration required. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

Yosi’s music show. Monday, July 27, 6:30 p.m. Online registration required. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

So Magic. Thursday, Aug. 6, 4 p.m. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for more information.

Fractured Fairy Tale. Fridays, Aug. 7, 14, 21 and 28, 10:30 a.m. Join us as we retell the original story of some of your favorite fairy tales and learn about fractured fairy tales that give these old tales a new spin. After the story, you will find out about more activities you can do at home. Ages pre-K-2. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the videos each week.

Hickory Corner’s chick hatching. Thursday, Aug. 13, 11:30 a.m. Chick it out! Meet the newly hatched baby chicks and learn about how they’ll be cared for. After meeting the chicks, submit name suggestions Miss Chrissy at cholcomb@mcl.org or reach out to @mclsnj on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and be sure to join Miss Chrissy and Miss Andrea when they announce the chicks’ names at the baby chick birthday party on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the video.

Middle Grade Book Club: The Creativity Project discussion. Thursday, Aug. 13, 10:30 a.m. After watching Miss Christine’s story prompt video from July 31, imagine your own story. Let your imagination run wild and then join us live to share your creation and hear what others were inspired to create. This is an interactive program so please enable your camera and microphone. Recommended for Grades 3 through 5. Registration with an email is required, so we can send you a link to connect through GoToMeeting. You will receive the link approximately 24 hours before the program. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

Middle Grade Book Club: The Creativity Project. Friday, Aug. 14, noon. We’re challenging you to imagine a story! Miss Briana will share a story prompt and response from the book, The Creativity Project, and challenge you to create your own story based on a prompt. Then join Miss Briana for a live program on Aug. 27 at 10:30 a.m. (registration required) to share a story, picture, drawing, poem, comic, or even a song that you created based on the prompt. Recommended for grades 3-5. MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org for a link to the video.

Hickory Corner’s chick hatching. Tuesday, Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m. Join us for our baby chicks’ “birthday party!” Get an up close and personal virtual view of our fuzzy new friends.   We will give them their names, read a chick story, sing “I Know a Chicken” and walk you through making a chick craft.  This program is suitable for all-ages of animal lovers. Online registration required. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

Middle Grade Book Club: The Creativity Project. Thursday, Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. After watching Miss Briana’s story prompt video from Aug. 14, imagine your own story. Let your imagination run wild and then join us live to share your creation and hear what others were inspired to create. This is an interactive program so please enable your camera and microphone. Recommended for Grades 3 through 5. Registration with an email is required, so we can send you a link to connect through GoToMeeting. You will receive the link approximately 24 hours before the program. Visit MCL’s Events Page on www.mcl.org to register.

MCLS ongoing virtual programs

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is an early literacy program which encourages parents and caregivers to read 1,000 books to their children before entering kindergarten. The goal is to spark an early love of reading which will benefit children when they enter school. You may participate at any time by downloading the reading log online. Visit mcl.org/1000-books-kindergarten to get started.

Virtual Amateur Photo Contest. Do you have a talent for photography? Take part in MCL’s first Virtual Amateur Photo Contest! Submit a photo entry for a chance to win fabulous prizes.  Each participant may submit ONE photo. The theme is “People and Places.” Photo Submission deadline: Aug. 15. For more details visit: mcl.org/virtual-amateur-photo-contest

MCLS Virtual services

College application essay review. MCL staff will read and review your college application essay and offer recommendations that concentrate on the content, focus, and direction of the essay. To participate, email a draft of your college application essay as well as the prompt to which you are responding to email. Feel free to send the essay in the body of the email to collegeapps@mcl.org, as a Microsoft Word attachment, or as a Google Doc link.

Resume and cover letter review. Our librarians will review and proofread your resume or cover letter and offer feedback on recommended edits and changes, including grammar, formatting, and overall layout. Please email a draft of your resume or cover letter (as a Microsoft Word Document) to resreview@mcl.org including a short description of the job you are targeting.

Personalized picks. The Mercer County Library System is offering a new virtual Reader’s Advisory Service. Patrons can fill out a short questionnaire and a librarian will create a personalized list of recommend titles available in MCL’s collection. Visit mcl.org/personalized-picks to fill out the survey and receive recommendations for your next book!

Digital content on the MCLS Virtual Branch

eLibrary NJ. Borrow eBooks and audiobooks through eLibraryNJ. Patrons are allowed 5 borrows at a time. Download the OverDrive or Libby app; or visit elibrarynj.overdrive.com/ to get started.

Hoopla. Borrow movies, music, audiobooks, eBooks, comics and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, phone – and even your TV! Download the hoopladigital app; or visit hoopladigital.com/ to get started.

Freegal. Access over 15 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists. Create playlists, stream music for up to 3 hours per day, and get three downloads per week with your MCL library card. Download the Freegal app; or visit mclnj.freegalmusic.com/ to get started.

Flipster. Instant access to the magazines you know and love in an easy-to-read digital format. Download the Flipster app; or visit www.mcl.org to get started.

New and noteworthy databases

The Mercer County Library System has a large selection of databases for patrons, most of which can be accessed from home. Database topics include job and career resources, test prep, finance, research, consumer information, health and wellness, reader’s advisory, genealogy and much more.

Brainfuse – HelpNow. HelpNow offers a comprehensive suite of online academic services designed to support many learning needs and styles. The Adult Learning Center provides comprehensive academic support from trained adult education specialists in areas such as US Citizenship testing, resume and cover letter assistance, and core skills building.

Brainfuse – JobNow. JobNow provides live online assistance and powerful tools and resources for job-seekers. JobNow features Live Interview Coaching, a Resume Lab, 24/7 access to Career Resources, and an Adult Learning Center.

EBSCO. Scavenger hunts, lesson plans and other free content to support distance learning. Study guides and flash reviews in PDF format to help students prepare for ACT, SAT, AP and GED exams. Activities to keep kids (and their parents) busy while in quarantine.