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, according to the State Library of NSW.
NSW State Librarian John Vallance said, “the NSW Premier’s green light to libraries reopening on Monday 1 June could not have come at a better time.”
The State Library’s two main reading rooms will reopen for study and computer use to begin with. Most public libraries across the state are also set to reopen on 1 June.
A reduced number of readers will be allowed in either the State Library’s Bashir Reading Room or the Mitchell Library Reading Room at any one time to maintain safe physical distancing. Readers will need to book online for one of two daily sessions offered Monday to Friday. There will also be walk-up sessions for 30- minute computer access.
“We’ll be strictly complying with NSW Health guidelines to protect the health and safety of everyone who comes through our doors,” said Dr Vallance.
Library staff will be spending this Library and Information Week (25 – 31 May) preparing to welcome back readers, as well as meet the thousands of new members that connected with their state or public library for the first time while in isolation.
Dr Vallance said libraries have “risen to the challenge to engage and stimulate their communities online through the isolation period with free virtual storytime sessions, online book clubs and talks, podcasts, digital puzzles and activities, as well as connect them with a wealth of digital content.”
Since the 23 March shutdown, the State Library has enjoyed 703,611 website visits (20% increase) and 1,500 ebooks have been downloaded (200% increase)*.
NSW public libraries have collectively processed over 800,000 eloans (300% increase) and enjoyed over one million website visits (100% increase)*.