Library doors to open for limited services

CLARENCE Valley libraries plan to open their doors on Monday, but not completely.

Regional librarian Kathryn Breward said the libraries at Grafton, Maclean, Yamba and Iluka would open for a limited number of patrons to allow use of computers.

She said the opening was part of a staged reopening of services.

She said access to computers had been one of the libraries most sought after services before the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Not everybody has access to a computer or a good internet connections,” she said.

“Before we shut down the library buildings that was something the public used extensively, but it was something we could not continue to offer.”

Ms Breward said from Monday people would need to book to use the service and numbers would be strictly controlled.

Grafton would allow five, Maclean/Yamba two and Iluka one person at a time with a 45 minute limit on each session.

“Limiting time and numbers will allow staff time to clean all the equipment and surfaces around the equipment between sessions,” she said.

“People will need to call the library to book a session.”

Ms Breward said way the public had used library services during the lockdown was proof it offered services people valued.

“Officially we were closed to the public for the past two months, but when you compare our April figures year on year from 2019, we’re only down 29 per cent.

She said people had responded very well to the click, call and collect service Clarence libraries offered, which allowed people to borrow books and other library offerings without making contact with staff.

She said use of the library’s e-resources had gone through the roof in April.

But she said there was no date set for a return to full opening of libraries.

“It’s tricky,” she said. “Allowing people back into browse the books, touching them and putting them back onto shelves is not something we could do safely,” she said.

“This is stage one. We’ll see how that goes and think about other things we can offer.”

NSW State Librarian John Vallance said millions of people have turned to libraries to get them through the current health crisis, with over 20,000 new members signing up online since the lockdown.

“Libraries don’t make sense without people in them, and I am pleased that we’ll be reopening the State Library’s two main reading rooms for study and computer use to begin with from 10am next Monday,” he said, said.

“What has become abundantly clear over these past eight weeks is just how loved and valued libraries are, and this time apart has been tough on all of us.”

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