Saturday, 16 May 2020

Queenstown Lakes District Libraries to reopen on Monday

Browsers welcome to return after big increase in eLibrary use during lockdown

Library buildings in Arrowtown, Frankton, Hāwea, Queenstown and Wānaka will reopen their doors to the community on Monday morning (18 May) following a huge increase in the number of people accessing online eLibrary services during lockdown.

The shared Queenstown Lakes-Central Otago libraries website received more than 31,000 views in April compared to a previous average of around 11,000 per month. In addition, children’s story time readings took place via Facebook videos that collectively received more than 8,000 views. Local library members viewed more than 165,000 online articles and streamed 861 films last month (usually around 150) via apps available on the website.

QLDC General Manager Community Services Thunes Cloete said while it had been great to see a significant increase in use of online resources, for many people there was nothing like browsing the shelves, enjoying a quiet reading or study space, and chatting to the librarians.

“Our libraries are real community hubs with a value far exceeding their traditional role of lending books and other items. I completely understand why many in our community have felt a sense of loss with not being able to walk in on their own or with children as they did before lockdown,” he said.

“Of course there will be significant changes to how we can provide face-to-face services while Aotearoa New Zealand remains under COVID-19 alert levels, but our libraries team has been working hard to implement the required safety measures in time for the facilities to reopen.”

Glenorchy, Kingston and Makarora libraries are unable open at this time as their more limited space does not currently allow for the required physical distancing under Alert Level 2, but additional measures are being implemented to allow these venues to reopen later this month.

To manage demand and the flow of people safely, just one person per bubble will be allowed to enter each library at any one time, and each library will host a maximum of between 10 and 20 customers at any one time. Users will be asked to limit their visits to 15 minutes to enable as many people as possible to access the buildings each day.

Access to WiFi and the internet on library computers will resume in Frankton and Queenstown, while an external WiFi space will be created at Arrowtown and Wānaka. Print and copying services will resume at all open libraries. All library use is subject to distancing protocols.

District Librarian Sue Gwilliam said more new initiatives will be introduced over the coming weeks, many as a result of an online survey which remains open on the libraries website for community feedback until Sunday evening.

“We’ve received more than 350 responses so far which have given us a great insight into how users have been accessing eLibrary resources like eBooks, online learning tools and streamed movies and documentaries during lockdown. They have also told us how they’d like to see us develop our services overall in the future,” said Ms Gwilliam.

“We are looking to establish a click-and-collect service soon in addition to normal browsing and borrowing. In the longer term, this might extend to a home delivery service for some library members. We also hope to introduce a dedicated hour for our older users who might need that additional reassurance.”

“In the meantime, all items currently on loan are not due back until 30 June so there’s no need to rush them back on Monday. But we look forward to seeing some familiar faces again and thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we adapt to a new normal!” said Ms Gwilliam.

Full details of opening hours, services and how to join are available on the libraries website  or by calling one of the larger branches on 03 441 3680 (Frankton), 03 441 0600 (Queenstown) or 03 443 0410 (Wānaka).

ENDS|KUA MUTU.

Media contact: communications@qldc.govt.nz or call 03 441 1802.