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Life in isolation: Residents turn to libraries without leaving comforts of home

Published on 15 April 2020
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  • Community
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Now more than ever, Maroondah residents are seeking escapism and education through books and online resources as they prepare for a spell in isolation.

Despite the closure of Maroondah’s libraries in response to COVID-19, the good news is that the community can continue to access library services in a variety of ways.

Eastern Regional Libraries Customer Experience Manager Sarah Hopkins said that while face-to-face customer service and the pleasure of browsing library shelves was not possible under the current circumstances, modern technology fortunately meant libraries were still accessible.

“For a lot of people this provides an enormous comfort knowing that they are still able to access our services and borrow without having to leave home,” she said.

ERL offers a host of downloadable resources for members that can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members can browse from more than 60,000 free eBook and eAudiobook titles for adults, teens and children, as well as eMagazines, board games, DVDs, music, and more.

“There’s been a big uptake of digital resources, e-Books, magazines and streaming platforms, as well as a significant number of print books,” said Sarah.

Maroondah has two major libraries, Realm in Ringwood and Croydon Library. Both libraries are managed by Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation (ERLC), which also provides services to Knox and Yarra Ranges.

In the interest of public health, libraries have suspended their Click and Collect service in response to Australian Government COVID-19 restrictions. Instead library users can now order through Click for Home Delivery

“Click for Home Delivery is a new postal service that we’re offering to our members in support of social isolation directives,” explains Sarah, adding that library users can order a selection of books and DVDs of books that will be delivered to their door by Australia Post.

Sarah said the service meant people did not have to miss out on getting a hold of hard copy versions of their favourite author or genre, especially for those without access to digital services or who preferred the tangibility of books and magazines.

Library users can phone their local branch (or 1300 737 277) Monday to Friday during business hours (9am to 5pm). The Click for Home Delivery service is limited to one delivery per member, per month.

“You can still place holds on all your favourite items in the catalogue and get in contact with your library to arrange a delivery once they come in. There’s also the option to have one of our library staff choose a selection of books, magazines or DVDs for you if you’re not sure what you’re looking for,” said Sarah.

To keep children at home entertained, libraries are now streaming Storytime Live to ERL’s Facebook page each weekday at 11am. Families can also tune in anytime to have fun with their favourite children’s librarian, reading books and singing songs.

“Storytime is going gangbusters and we’ve had lots of wonderful feedback, especially from parents who are finding the 25 to 30 minute sessions a fantastic way to keep children engaged while giving themselves a break,” adds Sarah.

Story Box Library, an online platform for young children, means youngsters can also listen to their favourite stories being read by some of the country’s best storytellers including popular children’s author Andy Griffiths and children’s entertainer Justine Clarke.

While return chutes remain open, members are being advised to hold onto borrowed items until restrictions on non-essential activity are lifted, or when libraries reopen. There will be no late fees for overdue items while libraries are closed.

“We are doing our utmost to keep our library services going and are continually working on ways to improve our services during this challenging time. We’re encouraging everyone to observe all government regulations about staying at home and for people to return their items when they are able to,” Sarah said.

If you aren’t already a library member, simply visit the ERL website and follow the steps to sign-up and get free access.

Library staff are still available to answer questions and assist with enquiries over the phone on 1300 737 277 or connect with them via the ERL website

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