Behind the scenes at Western Bay of Plenty District Libraries, a small team of staff has been committed to keeping library services alive and well during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Libraries closed and all regular programmes ceased from March 25, so staff stepped in to find ways of keeping the community connected through innovative ways the libraries could operate online.
A surge in people using the libraries’ Facebook page shows that the team’s hard work has reaped rewards, says Western Bay of Plenty District Council Customer Experience Manager, Barbara Whitton.
Following the lockdown, the library's Facebook page saw a 144 per cent increase in page followers; a 200 per cent increase in `Actions on Page’ and a 62 per cent increase in `Post engagements’.
WBOPDC Customer Experience Manager, Barbara Whitton, says the response across all levels of the libraries’ social media is fantastic and has involved many people who previously didn’t use these channels to connect with their library.
“As we move down the lockdown levels and into a new normal, we will take these people with us and continue to engage with them in a range of ways.
“We also had increased enquiries from customers who wanted to update their membership and details to sign up for e-Resources. With our e-collection there has also been an increase of 95 per cent in active users and 123 per cent in loans compared to April last year.”
Another interesting find was the increase in people viewing Council’s Recollect site https://westernbay.recollect.co.nz/ during lockdown, says Barbara.
Views on the site rocketed in April to 48,626 views – compared to 11,861 the previous month and 17,751 in April 2019.
“This incredible lift in views just shows how people want to connect with their local heritage and discover their own stories when they have a little more time on their hands."
Council has a partner agreement with DNZ (Digital New Zealand), which takes Council’s content and displays it on their web site: https://digitalnz.org/. This is run and maintained by the National Library of New Zealand.
Barbara says the lift in digital interaction may mean more people will make use of social media in future.
She says other people will be looking forward to a return to face-to-face interaction and the knowledge, empathy and friendliness that comes with engaging with staff.
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