Technology and social media have resulted in a surge of people accessing Western Bay of Plenty libraries during lockdown.
Libraries closed and all regular programmes stopped when the Government introduced Covid-19 level 4 lockdown restrictions on March 25. Since then, library staff have stepped in to find innovative ways of keeping the community connected.
During lockdown staff work on the libraries' Facebook pages resulted in a 144 per cent increase in followers, 200 per cent increase in page actions and 62 per cent increase in engagement.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council customer experience manager Barbara Whitton said the response across all levels of the libraries' social media was fantastic and 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," Whitton said.
"We also had increased inquiries 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."
Figures also showed an increase in people accessing heritage and history through the council's Recollect site during lockdown, resulting in 48,626 views in April compared to 11,861 in March 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," Whitton said.
The council has a partner agreement with DNZ (Digital New Zealand), which takes the council's content and displays it on their website, run and maintained by the National Library of New Zealand.
Whitton said the lift in digital interaction may mean more people would make use of social media in the future due to the council's increasing online offerings. But other people would be looking forward to return to face-to-face interaction and the knowledge, empathy and friendliness that comes with engaging with staff.
To visit Western Bay Libraries click here.
Western Bay libraries' Facebook pages:
* Preschool and early primary age – eg. sharing professionally recorded storytimes in English and te reo; Lego challenges; recycled craft ideas; home-based literacy activities; Easter and Anzac Day activities
* Tweens and teens activities including writing workshops, links to scientists and other experts
* Adults' activities: Library humour; "interactive posts"; author suggestions and book reviews
* Keeping people connected with the library service: How to join; how to sign up for eBooks and other online resources; Tech Tips
* Archives/history, including the history we are living through now; feel-good community-related posts.