Book lovers back for more

Returned . . . Dunedin Public Libraries services manager Bernie Hawke puts a book back on the shelf at the city library on Tuesday. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

More than 3500 people visited Dunedin libraries when they reopened last week.

Figures from the Dunedin City Council showed 3516 people went to the city’s six libraries on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Dunedin City Council public libraries service manager Bernie Hawke said people seemed pleased the libraries were open again.

The libraries, like all council facilities, are adhering to Level 2 guidelines which include restricting numbers, contact tracing and social distancing.

People were encouraged to keep their visits to the library short.

Mr Hawke said the “vast majority” of people were comfortable with the new requirements.

“By in large, most people are happy and relieved to be back.”

Before lockdown, it was estimated about 65,000 items were on loan.

Since people were unable to return their books, the loan period was extended until the end of June and loan charges were wiped.

By Sunday, 25,236 items had been returned.

“People are really glad to return their items.”

Nearly 16,000 were returned to the city library, 5204 to Mosgiel and 1386 to Port Chalmers. More than 12,000 books were also checked out.

The book chutes were opened two days before the library doors to “avoid large congregations of people eager to return their books”.

While borrowing books was not allowed during lockdown, people were still able to access some of the libraries’ items online.

“When we were closed there was a huge increase in ebooks and e-audio”

Mr Hawke estimated it had increased by 60-80% compared with the same period last year.

Online digital membership was also popular as more than 200 people signed up during lockdown.