Our library in The Guardian today

From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

Today The Guardian published When Covid closed the library: staff call every member of Victorian library to say hello, an article about what some Victorian libraries have been doing during the pandemic. It’s wonderful to have this testament to the work library staff have been doing.

While some people are facing reduced employment or unemployment right now, this pandemic has meant a significant increase in my work. Under the leadership of my manager, Lisa Dempster, who is quoted in the article, our team have worked hard to shift programming online and think creatively about how to help our community transition to lockdown.

From ensuring people are aware of our already existing digital offerings such as ebooks and audiobooks, to shifting in-person programs like Storytime online (three times per day, five days a week!), to entirely new programs like Caring Calls… it’s been quite a time.

Our staff have had to learn new skills, adapt to constantly changing work priorities and communicate constantly with our community. As soon as we find solutions to suit the current lockdown level and limitations, it all changes again and we readjust what we can do, trying to keep our patrons and their needs at the forefront the whole time.

When so many vulnerable members of our community find themselves even more marginalised by current circumstances, it feels good to be working in a community-orientated organisation that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives. Seeing feedback flood in through social media and our email inbox telling us what a difference it has made for people to feel less alone, or be able to access reading material, or have a familiar face for their kids to see every day during our Storytime videos has made the hard work worthwhile.

It’s worth reminding you that anyone in Victoria is welcome to join Yarra Plenty Regional Library as a digital member, which offers immediate access to our eLibrary. That means instant downloads of ebooks, audiobooks and streaming of films/television. We’ve got a bunch of exciting programs coming up soon, so now is a great time to become a member.