The Ventnor branch of the Atlantic County Library System will reopen today after a vandalism incident forced the branch to close Monday and Tuesday.

Ventnor police said vandals entered the library during the weekend and caused “thousands of dollars” in damage.

“That’s a rough estimate,” said Bev Bird, the library community relations manager. “By the time you add up the computer equipment that was destroyed, there was a television, the books, there’s some damage to the walls, broken glass ... it’s a ballpark number.”

Resources from other branches were moved to the Ventnor branch to help with today’s opening.  

“We’re still trying to find equipment from our other branches to take over there so that they can be as close to fully operational as possible,” Bird said. “We’ll do the best we can to provide the same level of service as before.”

People attempting to use the library were upset when they found it closed.

“I came yesterday,” Karen Smith-Hughes, a Ventnor resident, said Tuesday. “My mother’s got a library book she wanted to return and it’s overdue, so I’m frustrated.”

For Hughes-Smith, the frustration goes beyond the overdue library book. Her father, Russ Smith, designed parts of the library’s interior.

“He died this morning,” she said. “He’s the guy that the flags of Ventnor are at half-staff for today. Yesterday was his 85th birthday.”

The library is pursuing an insurance claim for the incident.

“We are still gathering information on the vandalism and are unable to make a determination at this time about what may be covered by insurance,” Bird said via email, noting that the library’s locks were changed as a standard operating procedure.

Contact David Simpson:

609-272-7204

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