Keeping the pages turning

Sharon Waller delivers an online storytime.

By Romy Stephens

Libraries across the outer east have been working hard to keep the community reading during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL) was forced to close down all libraries across the Yarra Ranges on 19 March due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Since then, ERL has developed a Click for Home Delivery system where books are posted to members’ homes.

ERLs manager of customer experience, Sarah Hopkins, said the postage service had been a huge success.

“We’re posting one box of library material per person, per month to anybody that wants some books,” she said.

“In April, across all Eastern Regional Libraries, we sent out about 2200 boxes.

“We’ve received incredible feedback and thanks from members of the community who are so happy to have something that can occupy and distract them.”

The Click for Home Delivery still allows members to place holds on their favourite items in the catalogue and arrange for delivery once they are available.

Members can also ask library staff to make a selection of magazines, books, DVDs or games.

To help keep children engaged in reading, ERL has also continued its weekly storytime sessions online.

“Prior to closing, Eastern Regional Libraries offered 42 storytimes a week, every week during term time,” Ms Hopkins said.

“That suddenly went to nothing, so we’ve organised to post at least one storytime every day.

“The children who used to come to storytime can still tune in and see their librarian and we’ve had incredible numbers watching.”

Ms Hopkins said all of these ERL initiatives have been created to help “maintain connection” between libraries and the community.

She said this time of isolation and closed doors has reinforced the importance of libraries.

“I feel incredibly optimistic about the future of libraries. The response to people wanting their library, wanting to still use the collection, has been really strong,” she said.

“Although libraries don’t come anywhere near being considered an essential service they are actually very important to lots of people.”

Despite libraries currently being closed, ERL has an extensive digital collection available online.

To find out more, visit www.yourlibrary.com.au, contact your local library branch or call 1300 737 277.

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