Auckland Council Libraries was delighted to re-open the doors to 32 of their 55 branches on Wednesday 20 May, with all remaining libraries across Auckland opening on Tuesday 2 June.
Since re-opening, customers eager to refresh their reading material after lockdown have kept library staff busy restocking shelves.
There were over 57,000 items returned on the first day open, and over the first three weeks 603,000 items were returned and 557,000 fresh items were checked out.
Readers are still also enjoying the convenience of Auckland Council Libraries’ eBooks and eAudiobooks, with borrowing of these formats after libraries re-opened still significantly higher than this time last year.
Auckland Council Libraries welcomed 3772 new eMembers to their whānau over the lockdown period. Both new and existing customers enjoyed full and free access to a huge range of online resources from within their bubbles, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, film streaming services Beamafilm and OverDrive, and Lynda.com online training courses. With library buildings closed, many customers tried e-reading for the first time, with nearly half a million eBooks and eAudiobooks loaned over the closure period.
Now libraries are back open, eMembers can choose to upgrade to a full membership, gaining free access to the entire Auckland Council Libraries collection. Bring photo ID into any branch for library staff to update details and issue a free card for use in any library across Tāmaki Makaurau.
New services and initiatives
New services and initiatives introduced during Alert Level 2 are making it easier for customers to get back into the groove at their local library.
No fees will be charged for overdue books or uncollected items until the end of June, and loan limits for adults have been raised from 35 to 50 items so customers can stock up with just one trip.
For great reads in a jiffy, Ready-to-Go Reads offer customers of all ages a “lucky dip” bag of five books from their favourite genre, hand-selected and packed by local librarians and ready to collect at your closest library. Ready-to-Go Reads are the perfect pick-me-up for yourself, or whānau and friends unable to visit the library themselves.
Virtual events and programming
In-house events and activities will be returning in July, but not everything will be available at all libraries with the same frequency or quantity as before the pandemic. We’re taking a bit of time to plan what our communities really need from us now. A range of virtual events and programmes for all ages is still on offer, produced at home and in-house by library staff keen to share their many talents with their communities. Follow Auckland Council Libraries on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud or Spotify, and see local libraries’ social media for storytimes, art and craft classes, book reviews, music performances, podcasts and more.
The Central City Library’s Heritage Talks moved to virtual meeting app Zoom in mid-March, quickly pivoting from live events to live-streamed webinars featuring local and internationally renowned genealogists and historians. These have proved hugely popular, with hundreds of enthusiasts tuning in regularly from the comfort of their own homes. A special Anzac Week series of webinars presented in partnership with Ancestry.com saw over 200 people attending each daily session.
Given their success, family history librarian Seonaid Lewis hopes customers will soon be able to choose to attend either in person at the Central City Library or via livestream – Zoom registrations are open now for the upcoming Democracy 2020 webinar series kicking off on Monday 22nd June.
To make sure customers could still receive recommendations from their local book experts, Auckland Council Libraries’ newest podcast series Book Bites launched during lockdown. This series served up tasty 2-minute book reviews recorded by library staff from across Auckland, and literary podcast Books and Beyond recorded a lockdown special over Skype using an audio booth hastily constructed in a clothes closet.
To find out more
So get along to your local Auckland Council Library; the libraries are all open and staff are looking forward to welcoming you back. For full information about opening hours, available services and operational, hygiene and physical distancing protocols during Alert Level 1 go to aucklandlibraries.govt.nz.