Thousands welcome re-opening of libraries across the region


SINCE opening their doors on June 2, Wollongong City Libraries have welcomed back more than 2,900 customers who have borrowed some 14,370 items including books, magazines and DVDs.

These visits and loans have been welcomed by Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery who said libraries play a special place in many people’s lives.

“We knew that in reopening our libraries we’d make many people happy, and I’d like to thank everyone for their understanding of the changes we’ve made to our library services at this time,” Cr Bradbery said.

“Reopening our libraries wasn’t just a matter of opening the doors and welcoming people in. We had to have new procedures in place, and measures to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, library customers and the wider community. It hasn’t been an easy time for our staff – well done we’re on the way back.”

Since reopening last week, library staff have quarantined and cleaned 14,179 items before they could be returned to the shelves. This is one of the measures that are in place to meet the updated NSW Public Health guidelines for library operations.

In line with the guidelines there are limits on the number of people in the facility at any one time and people planning to visit need to book a 50-minute time slot with the library they want to visit and provide their contact details to staff. These details will be requested by NSW Health should someone who has visited one of our libraries be diagnosed with Coronavirus.

At Wollongong a reduced number of computers are available, and to support physical distancing guidelines, those using the computers will need to be able to use them without the assistance of staff.

“Visiting your library at the moment is a bit like making a restaurant booking. You want to arrive on time, to get the most out of your visit,” Cr Bradbery said.

“Otherwise, if you’re late, you won’t get your full 50 minutes before you’ll need to leave to allow the next group of library visitors through. I appreciate this is challenging, but it’s the environment we’re currently faced with and we all need to work together to support one another.”

Council’s Customer Service Centre, on the ground floor of the Burelli Street, Wollongong, Administration Building, has also been open since Tuesday with up to 10 customers being allowed in at any one time between 9am-5pm. Customers are not required to book in to speak with staff, but those with planning applications should continue to submit them online. Enquires of the duty planner will continue to be over the phone only, and the customer service team will continue to answer enquires over the phone between 8.30am-5pm, weekdays.

Council is currently reviewing what measures would need to be in place for the reopening of Council-run community centres next week.

The Council is awaiting the updated NSW Public Health Order, which will outline the restrictions and requirements, and will be in contact with regular hirers to discuss use of the centres.

Community Centres that are licensed to non-profit volunteer community organisations are also waiting for the updated NSW Public Health Order to then consider when and how they might operate. People should contact these centres directly for updates from Monday June 15.

Wollongong Art Gallery remains closed until July while work is underway to repair damage from the fallen gum tree to the building’s front entrance.


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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