Whanganui Library is open for business, with a few restrictions.

When Midweek visited there was a queue outside the door of the Queens Park building, and as customers entered they gave their names and contact details to Bonnie at the door before entering the hallowed space. Hand sanitiser dispensers are liberally spread around interior and people are expected to maintain distance.

Nick Keene, library frontline services manager, says work went on even while the public was excluded. Weeding the collections, for example, and things that can't be done by remote.

"We're working out what level 2 is going to look like for customers. We are contact tracing: logging every customer in and logging every customer out, but most people seem quite relaxed about that."


People are asked to leave by the rear door where their names are taken again.

"It slows us down a little bit and people are getting used to queuing. We've had to station staff in ways we've never had to before."

All staff have been retained through the pandemic. Until May 25, public computers are not available.

"We just wanted a couple of weeks of people taking books out and bringing them back so we can settle into a new rhythm. We're not taking cash payments at the moment: we've made all our rental items free for now. Within three or four weeks we should have everything back up and running again."

The cafe is closed for now.

"The social side of public spaces is having to be thought through, so all our programming is suspended - Kids' Storytime and Tea and Tales."

Tea and Tales had just got started with 50 people attending the first programme. Covid-19 put a stop to it.

"Some things like that will be level 1 so a lot of our programming we're putting on line for now."


The Mobile Library is back on the road with customers limited to one bubble at a time until level 1.