Powers That Be Turns MO Library Into Place To Be  

By Cheryl Conway 


Thinking outside the ‘book’ has been the new genre at the Mt. Olive Public Library in Budd Lake these days with invigorating programs and events.

Circulation is greater than it’s ever been before with more readers checking out books and materials, and this new wave of energy is really opening up creative ways for the library to being a popular hotspot in Mt. Olive.  

“We have really been putting programing at the forefront and thinking to think outside the box to achieve more involvement in the library,” comments Monica Lyn Powers of Byram,  Program coordinator/Youth Services at MOPL for the past four years. “The library is essentially the hub of our town.”

Four years post the pandemic outbreak, life at the library is going back to normal and with this positive wave of new ideas, there is no stopping readers from taking out books and the flurry of events that are about to unfold. 

“Circulation has been climbing since the break of COVID,” says Powers. 

“This past year, circulation numbers were beyond expectations with a total of 154,578 circs (The number of items checked out or renewed) in 2023,” she shares.  “That’s an 11% increase from 2022.

“I believe that people genuinely missed being present, touching and holding books and participating in programs,” she says. “Also, our digital apps for eBooks and eAudiobooks have become very popular.   Digital Video streaming is a free alternative that we also offer to an otherwise expensive product/service.” 

Those who frequented the library in December 2023, most likely entered the Holiday Reading Raffle in which patrons could enter their name in the raffle every time they took out a book or item. At the end of December, names were drawn, and lucky contestants won amazing gifts baskets filled with awesome items all donated by area businesses. 

“We’ve estimated the participants at 2,100,” shares Powers. With some anonymous donations, Powers was unable to provide an exact dollar amount but admits “that the donations were above and beyond generous. It filled our hearts to see so many local companies as well as neighboring town companies want to participate.”

Companies that donated included: Mars Inc., The After, Advanced Auto, Jersey Mikes of Budd Lake, Revolution Fitness, Frank’s Pizza of Flanders, Dino’s Pizza, RIO’S Electric, Dunkin Donuts, Wawa, Centenary Stage Co., Tractor Supply, The Growing Stage, Lakeview Sports Bar and Grill, Heavenly Nails, China Thai, Rons Hair Studio, Eat Tokyo, DTA Auto, Anna’s Bagel and Deli, Joseph Vincent’s Hair, Circle Lanes, Sports Care Arena, GG’s Baskets, Hackettstown Bagel, Das Creamery, Sundae’s, Bubbakoo’s, New China Thai, Enzo’s and Vincenzo’s Pizza.

“We are planning on hosting this again next year with a few minor adjustments to better serve the community,” says Powers.

The event was a huge success and has really kicked things off with 2024 events just beginning.  

“We are always looking to improve programming for all ages,” says Powers. “In a time where electronics have taken hold of everything, we need to work extra hard to remind people of real connection, involvement and simple fun.”

Scheduled this February, the library is hosting Couples Connection for adults 18 and older. It will be a night in honor of Valentine’s Day, says Powers, with games, food and a prize for one lucky couple. This event has been arranged for 10 couples/20 people, with registration required since the library will be providing appetizers and table arrangements similar to a restaurant setting. A game will be the highlight of the night and set up with the TV Show Newlywed Game/Dating Game in mind.

“The couple that scores the most will win a HUGE basket filled with prizes for them and their partner,” describes Powers. “I have personally arranged the basket and have the pleasure of working with Cake Pop Bar in Branchville, on special additions to make the gift super sweet. The program is FREE as we are a non-profit organization and take pride and joy in providing great programs for the public at no cost. All thanks to the Friends of the library who help fund many of our programming.”

The Friends of M.O. Library has supported many of these programs, and last year, provided $10,166 toward adult and children’s summer reading programs, museum passes for the community’s use, holiday programs and new window treatments for the Quiet Room.   These monies were generated from their book sales throughout the year, membership dues, donations and various fund-raising events. 

“This generally changes yearly depending on books sales as well,” says Powers.

More Upcoming Events  

In March, a Ramadan event for families is planned, and looking ahead towards summer through July and August, there will be an amazing interactive program filled with projects, special guests and raffle prizes for all age groups.

This year’s summer event theme is “Adventure Begins at Your Library,” which will focus on camping, hiking and everything nature, she shares. Each summer has a different theme; last year’s was called All Together Now Summer program.

“We always like to remind people to stay involved with our social media accounts and our website (Mopl.org) so they don’t miss out on anything exciting,” says Powers. “We are also trying to incorporate more flyers and posters into our promoting for those that may not be tech-savvy.”

Anyone who visits the library is most familiar with the main areas where they can choose from a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction materials organized in areas for children, young adults and adults. 

Many may not know about the Makers Space at the library —”a great place where people can come in and make crafts and use materials and machines such as the 3D Printer, Cricut and more (with assistance from staff),” says Powers. “Makers Day is coming up in March and this is a great opportunity for people to come in and experience the space. 

“We also have a wide variety of rooms that are available for use such as scout meetings, book clubs and homeschool groups,” she adds. “The options are endless!”

Who knew the library would be such a fun place? Powers certainly did! 

“My personal focus and role in the library has been bringing the fun back into the library,” concludes Powers. “People love to read, that is one fact that will never change. We also like to remind people that the library is a great place to meet people, get involved and enjoy amazing programs at no cost to them.”

Visit mopl.org for more information. 

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