Plans for a staged reopening of Newcastle’s libraries will progress from 15 June after home library services resumed last week.
“The City has developed a staged approach to reopening our libraries’ doors to its members that prioritises public and employee safety,” Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said.
“We’ll start with reopening the Newcastle and Wallsend branches to library members on 15 June, limiting the number of customers inside to allow for social distancing and we will monitor browsing and attendance time using a ‘Library Express’ model.”
“We have modified our opening schedule to allow for adequate cleaning of the facilities. The City’s libraries have also expanded their online offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to an increase in downloads of the Library app of 233 per cent. Our expanded online program will continue.”
The Libraries’ membership has increased by more than 1,000 during the pandemic to 93,640 after the City invested $60,000 in 5,800 additional e-book and audiobook titles, plus a new video streaming platform ‘Medici TV’.
This follows a 213 per cent increase in usage of an online learning package offered through Newcastle Libraries, with 2,291 sessions streamed free of charge in April alone.
The Library has continued to engage its audience through 52 online programs such as Facebook Live story times, stop motion Lego clubs, kids online crafternoons, podcasts, author talks and creative workshops.
In May, almost nine hours of video content was published and more than four hours of Facebook Live kids’ programs were delivered receiving 11,433 views during the month.
Newcastle Museum will reopen to the public on 23 June, however the facility’s interactive attractions will remain closed for safety in line with State guidelines.
Blackbutt Reserve’s animal exhibit boardwalk reopened last week.