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Whakatāne library staff & clients happy to be back

Te Kōputu, Whakatāne's library and exhibition centre has reopened after a nearly nine week hiatus. Photo: Charlotte Jones / LDR.

Bookworms are back in their element and browsing the stacks at the Whakatāne library.

Te Kōputu, Whakatāne's library and exhibition centre, threw open its doors to book and Wi-Fi lovers this week after a nearly nine-week hiatus.

Lifelong learning, programme and experience manager Louise Anderson says it is definitely good to be back and to have the public enjoying the library again.

"It is great to be back and to see some familiar faces in the library again.

"People have seemed overwhelmingly pleased to be able to come back and browse and interact with staff. That's what we're here for and it's the most important part of what we do."

While the number of people using the library has remained constant both pre and post lockdown, Anderson says there is now a "buzz" in the air.

Friends Hayden Stewart and Levi McIntyre, both aged 14, were enjoying the library's free Wi-Fi this week and say it offered a good place to chill when they were in town.

A woman who was stocking up on books says she ran out during lockdown and was keen to read something new.

This sentiment was echoed by an elderly man who said he had to pull "some rusty old books" out of his wardrobe and it was nice to read something new.

Another woman says she had signed up to the library that day and was looking forward to loaning her first book.

"It's really nice it's open and it seems like a great library," she says.

Staff were kept busy during the lockdown running programmes on Facebook, answering enquiries and helping people access e-books and research books online.

Louise says this provided some challenges but staff got good feedback from people pleased with the help they received.

"We learnt a lot of new skills to broaden what we do in the future."

The library also received a small makeover after level four was lifted with staff moving the children's section to the front of the library, where there is more space and natural light. They took the time to clean shelves and move furniture in readiness for the social distancing required when the library opened its doors again.

A contactless pick-up service was also well received by the public and is still available for those who want to use it.

People can loan books online, have them packaged by librarians and then pick them up from the front door.

Louise says last week, when this was the only way to loan books, the library still had many people coming to the front door wanting to come in.

In this case the librarians prepared random packages of books for them.

Te Kōputu is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm, under level two and has contact tracing, physical distancing, and other safety measures in place to ensure the health of staff and bibliophiles.

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