EADT Suffolk - - PHOEBE MORGAN AUTHOR - Find out more at suf­folk­li­braries.co.uk

Bruce Leeke, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Suf­folk Li­braries de­scribes how new ser­vices are avail­able dur­ing lock­down. “We’ve never had to shut li­brary build­ings be­fore but these are un­prece­dented times, and Suf­folk Li­braries has quickly adapted,” he says.

“We made an early de­ci­sion to sus­pend over­due charges and re­turn dates and, once we an­nounced the build­ing clo­sures, many peo­ple came in to stock up on books be­fore full lock­down came into force. We in­creased the choice avail­able from what was al­ready a very com­pre­hen­sive eLi­brary ser­vice, made it eas­ier to sign up on­line and com­pletely changed the look of our web­site to fo­cus on our vir­tual of­fer.

“Our staff have been bril­liant – we worked quickly to en­sure the cus­tomer ser­vice team could work re­motely and li­brary staff soon learned new dig­i­tal skills and em­braced so­cial me­dia very quickly. We now have an ex­cit­ing sched­ule of weekly on­line events in­clud­ing live sto­ry­telling, and vir­tual book dis­cus­sions reach­ing thou­sands of peo­ple.”

In­deed, Ask a Li­brar­ian aims to repli­cate the friendly help and ad­vice that Suf­folk Li­braries staff usu­ally pro­vide in per­son, while a new Life­line tele­phone ser­vice in­volves call­ing older and iso­lated cus­tomers to check they’re OK.

“We’ve al­ready made over 4,000 calls,” says Bruce. “We’re also host­ing a new on­line arts di­rec­tory show­cas­ing great cul­tural con­tent.”

Even as li­brary build­ings open again, their spa­ces are likely to be very dif­fer­ent while so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­mains a ne­ces­sity. But Bruce says peo­ple can ac­cess ti­tles, films, mu­sic, cour­ses and ac­tiv­i­ties not just in li­brary build­ings. It could be via the Suf­folk Li­braries web­site, apps, on­line live stream­ing of events, or even by hav­ing books de­liv­ered.”

Suf­folk Li­braries CEO Bruce Leeke.

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