A journey to knowledge during COVID-19
Libraries serve so many purposes beyond browsing for a good read. They are a community living room, an information hub and a safe, calm space to take a break for many people in Kāpiti.
This is why library staff knew they had to find new ways to offer services and connect our communities when New Zealand’s COVID-19 response closed our doors seven weeks ago.
Adrienne Hannan started her new job as the Programmes and Outreach Team Leader at Kāpiti Coast District Council only a week before lockdown began and had to adapt quickly to working from home with a new team and a three year old.
“Adapting our services from our kitchen tables took a lot of Zoom meetings and my son learnt to be very patient while I was on the computer! Libraries are places of interactions rather than transactions, so we looked at our existing services and what we could move to computer and phone contact rather than face-to-face,” says Ms Hannan.
“Nationally, all libraries worked together to get a copyright agreement so we could read published books aloud online, and our Tamariki Times through our Facebook page became really popular for parents also trying to juggle things at home. We also made a series of videos called ‘Librarians in Lockdown’ as we know a lot of our regulars come in to see us for a chat and to catch up on the local news. Our video content viewing went up 6000% during lockdown, it was phenomenal.
“What increased in importance, especially for our older community, was learning how to connect online. We usually run drop-in digital sessions at our libraries so we moved those to phone calls to help people navigate Zoom, Skype and Facebook so they could contact friends and whanau.”
Tiriata Carkeek, Team Leader at Ōtaki Library, has spent the last few weeks preparing all four Kāpiti libraries to safely reopen - not an easy task when the transition date and details to alert level 2 weren’t known.
“It’s been a journey for all of us to work through how to meet the health and safety measures that will keep our library communities safe. We’ve established new procedures for staff, sign-in registers and hygiene stations, and installed directional markers and protective screens which have become harder to source,” says Ms Carkeek.
Kāpiti Coast District Council’s Libraries and Arts Manager Ian Littleworth says it’s fantastic to be back in action and he is proud of the innovative solutions his team deployed to continue to support their community during lockdown.
“Our first day back we had 2000 books returned to our libraries and we saw items flying out the door. Our visitors have been hugely supportive of our contact tracing and hygiene measures, and we have received a very warm welcome back. ” says Mr Littleworth.
Temporary opening hours
Paraparaumu Library: 10am–5pm Monday to Friday, 10am–4pm Saturday. Closed Sunday
Waikanae and Ōtaki Libraries: 10am–5pm Monday to Friday, 10am–4pm Saturday
Paekākāriki Library: Normal hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday
You can find out more on our Libraries page.
– Tuesday 19 May 2020