Books have been flying off the shelves at Rotorua library as it welcomes the community back through its doors recently.

Library director Laura Marshall says even though the library is not yet back to its full programme of services - its events and education programmes are on hold - due to the need for physical distancing, it is still welcoming on average 500 people a day.

This is about half of the library's usual number of visitors.

"In comparison, our book issues are back to 75 per cent of our normal loaning. This means that people are taking out more books than they did before lockdown."

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Laura says entering the library is a little different from normal due to contact tracing requirements.

Rotorua Lakes Council and Rotorua Library are using the app 'Sine Pro' for contact tracing. The app can be downloaded prior to entering the building, and customers can check themselves in on the app as they walk through the front doors.

Alternatively, the library has iPads for those who would prefer not to download the app and staff are ready to help, which makes the process quick and simple.

"Once in the building, we are encouraging our visitors to maintain physical distancing and adhere to the additional hygiene measures we have all been made aware of, such as washing hands, coughing and sneezing into elbows and staying home if they are unwell."

Laura says while some of its activities, such as its preschool He Pi Ka Rere programme, had to move online and others had to be put on hold while other services including Heritage and Research, and computers access are running normally.

The library has extended all its loans to June 30 but people are also welcome to return their books prior to then.

"We have had a very positive reopening. Our patrons are very pleased and happy to be back, enjoying the building and the services we offer.

"We have heard lots of comments re patrons having to read books more than once during the lockdown and are looking forward to getting new books to read and enjoy."

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She says they have had a 100 per cent increase in loaning of e-material during lockdown.

Staff have been able to assist with taking phone calls and answering emails from their homes to ensure customers were able to have access to these materials, she says.

"Our online education databases have had an increase in use, as have our online programmes.

"Our staff have also been assisting in 'Skinny Jump' - making sure our families are connected to the internet, by helping with assisting in remote set up and other help to ensure the service runs smoothly."

Laura says the library team is also involved with AnyQuestions, a free online chat service that helps New Zealand school-age students with their schoolwork.

The service is funded by the Ministry of Education and staffed by librarians.

"Our staff are helping with extended hours that changed during lockdown. The service is still running, from 1pm to 6pm with librarians ready to answer any questions."

Rotorua's Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub. Photo / File
Rotorua's Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub. Photo / File

She says library staff have quickly adapted to the new "normal" and with little disruption to services.

"I'm very proud of how well the team have coped during and post lockdown.

"Our staff are very excited and happy to be back with the community, offering our services and inviting our community back into the building."

Laura says the library team have been working on a free click and deliver service for library members who are over 70 and housebound.

"We are also looking to expand the service in the coming weeks to include additional customers who find it difficult to access the library."

She says they are excited to start this service, and their first delivery was on Tuesday.

If customers are interested in this service, they can call 07 348 4177, although limited delivery spots are available. The library will also be offering a click and collect option.

"Check our website for more information about this service in coming weeks. Customers without a library card are invited to speak to the team about options, from full membership to an easy access starter card.

"We are following the Government guidelines, and when we feel we can deliver other services or programmes safely for our community, we will start to introduce them. Please keep an eye on our website for updates."