LOGGING ON TO THE LIBRARY IN LOCKDOWN
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.