The doors may be closed, but Exeter Library is still open
At Exeter Library we like to think we are all about people and community and connection. So, when the hard decision was made to close our doors (alongside all other public libraries in Devon and Torbay run by Libraries Unlimited), it was heartbreaking. Now, two months on those doors remain closed but we’ve found the library is very much open.
All library staff are working from home and from our homes are delivering a range of activities and events online (largely through our Facebook Page). We’ve got weekly live Bounce and Rhyme sessions and Story Times. There are craft videos and kitchen craft sessions (all on our YouTube channel too).
We are hosting weekly language cafes in Spanish and Portuguese, and fortnightly Italian ones, on Zoom, for people that speak the language well and want to practice their skills. We also hold a weekly ESOL (English as a spoken language) session for people who want to practice speaking English,
If podcasts are your thing then the lockdown period has seen Libraries Unlimited launch their own weekly show, co-hosted by a member of staff from Exeter Library, which shares news and interesting features from across all of Devon and Torbay libraries.
Books are still a major part of what we do and we’re helping people use our three e-book apps (all can be accessed via the Devon Libraries website). Libby for e-books, BorrowBox for e-audiobooks, and RB Digital for a range of e-magazines. To complement these we’re producing staff recommends videos (available across all our social media) which if you explore may help you find your next great read.
Our events are important to us at Exeter Library and we’ve been pleased to be able to already host three author events including award-winning CL Taylor and Sarah Vaughan. The talks have been broadcast on Facebook Live and enjoyed by all. We’ve also secured the rights to hold on to these talks to you can watch again or catch up on what you’ve missed on our YouTube channel.
I started this article though by talking about people. And that is still so much a focus of what we do. A group of our staff are ploughing through a list of all our customers aged over 70 and giving them a personal phone call (over 2,500 people!). Just a chance to check in with them, see how they are doing and chat about books, the weather, their experiences. We’re having some lovely renewed connections with people and the staff are appreciating being able to have the human touch.
For people that have access to the internet from their homes, we host a 3pm quiz/chat session every day of the week. The type of quiz changes every day and numbers of attendees vary but it’s always good fun…unless its Thursday Countdown day….turns out I am awful at Countdown!
We were also pleased to collaborate with St Petrock’s recently and arrange for over 100 books no longer suitable for our shelves to be shared with people in Exeter that are usually rough sleeping but are now in temporary accommodation during the lockdown. Being able the share the gift of reading at this time was wonderful and the whole move of books made possible by the generosity of the Freemoovement volunteers who in addition to transporting food around the city on their bikes with trailers, also agreed to take the books. The city coming together for those in need.
Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs all the public libraries across Devon and Torbay, are currently working on plans to safely re-open libraries in line with Government advice (not before July 2020) and in the meantime we continue to explore options for increasing the range of services we can offer to you.
And finally, they say a picture can say a thousand words, and a video can do even better. So I leave you with this quick message…from us to you. We will see you soon:
About the author: Emily Macaulay
Tags: books, community, help, languages, library, reading
Emily has worked within Devon Libraries since 2013 arriving as the refurbished Exeter Library prepared to open. Originally a Senior Supervisor for Operations Emily is now the Centre Manager for Exeter Library. Outside of work Emily is a keen runner and uses this to fundraise for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, a charity based in Leeds. She can be found on Twitter @emilyjmacaulay and LinkedIn.