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Thousands Return To Hutt City Libraries

Hutt City Libraries recorded high numbers of visitors in the first week of Alert Level 2 as they welcomed back customers after more than seven weeks of lockdown.

More than 2300 visitors were recorded across seven libraries on Monday 18 May, the first day of reopening, with queues forming in the morning at many sites and throughout the day at War Memorial Library.

The four community libraries at Eastbourne, Naenae, Petone and War Memorial Library welcomed more than 1700 customers. A further 550 people were recorded at Koraunui Stokes Valley Library and Community Hub, Wainuiomata Library and Community Hub, and Walter Nash Centre, home to Taita Library.

The high turnout continued with around 1500 visitors on Tuesday and Wednesday across all libraries.

"It’s wonderful to open our doors and welcome our community back," says Kat Cuttriss, Head of Hutt City Libraries. "We know libraries play a huge role in our customer’s lives and it was heartening to see so many people keen to come back."

Health and safety remains the first priority in re-opening and staff used the first weekend of Level Two to prepare their sites establishing safe entry and exit systems, contact tracing procedures and physical distancing measures.

"In terms of how the library is operating there are no time limits on visits or on the use of computers, with staff maintaining a common sense approach to ensure all customers can access what they need while staying safe," says Kat Cuttriss.

All onsite programming - including events, clubs and groups - remain suspended across all libraries during the initial phase of Level Two, but online programming will continue as the Libraries team look to build on the expanded range of digital services and content developed during lockdown. These include the popular Storytime videos, staff blogs and recommendation lists, while the ‘lockdown newsletter’ will evolve to continue to share the best online materials.

"Our priority during lockdown was to keep people connected," says Kat Cuttriss. "This included enabling online membership sign-ups, increasing our online programming, and keeping people up-to-date through social media and regular digital communications.

"Video content was a big part of this; we were keen to show familiar faces from across our libraries and maintain human connection, particularly with customers who may have been feeling quite isolated at that time."

This video content also includes ‘How To’ guides for the range of eResources that are available for free, 24/7 on the Hutt City Libraries website. The Libraries’ online collections include ebooks, newspapers, magazines and audiobooks; music, movie and documentary streaming; archive and heritage services; professional development courses and language lessons, and heaps more! Access is free for library members, and free online membership is available to all Lower Hutt residents.

Loans on all items have been extended until Thursday 4 June, and all overdue charges will be waived until this date.

With the variety of online options still available, customers can choose to return to Hutt City Libraries whenever they feel comfortable doing so - and will be warmly welcomed back at that time.

Physical distancing cannot be safely achieved at Moera Library, which remains closed for now. Returns can still be made at the site, while reserves from the Moera Library collections can be picked up at War Memorial Library.

© Scoop Media

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