We almost can’t contain our excitement! Following advice from the Victorian Government, Murrindindi Shire Council’s libraries and customer service centres are re-opening this week – with limited hours and services – after closing our doors to the public on 20 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we are re-opening our Alexandra, Yea and Kinglake branches, unfortunately our Mobile Library and Customer Service won’t be operating, as maintaining a 1.5 m social distance between people on the van is pretty tricky. We are planning to re-open on Wednesday 3 June, but it is a good idea to check our website or Facebook page (or give us a call) to check our new restricted hours.
Things will look a little different at our branches when we re-open. We have reconfigured our facilities to ensure staff can work safely and to keep social distancing in place. There will be signs and markers around to help guide foot traffic, toilets won’t be open and there will be limits on numbers of people allowed in and the time they are allowed to stay. We also need to record the details of people entering our buildings.
Cr Rebecca Bowles, Portfolio Councillor for Environment, Library Services and Information Technology, said while we know many in our community are champing at the bit to visit our libraries it is still important to remember that we need to use common sense when leaving home for any reason.
‘Our staff have really missed interactions with our community while working from home. While they are really looking forward to seeing everyone, things will work a bit different at each of our facilities to ensure we can operate safely – and we need your assistance to do that. Everyone is responsible for their own health during this pandemic’ she said.
‘We’ll be open from 10.00 am – 1.00 pm in all three locations before closing for lunch and to allow staff to clean our facilities. Our afternoon hours will be from 2.00 to 4.00 pm, except in Kinglake on Mondays, and in Yea and Alexandra on Tuesdays where we are open 3.00 – 6.30 pm to allow those who are working to pop in before we close. For the time being, we won’t be opening at all on Saturdays at any of our branches.
‘For those library members who are keen to find some new material, you will be able to browse the collection, but only for 15 minutes. Our staff will be working to provide you with another option – that of a ‘quick pick’ bag of books themed around a genre – for example, history or crime writing. And we are still offering our Book Butler service, particularly to those who are in the high-risk categories for COVID-19. So give us a call on 5772 0333 and our team will do its best to find some items to keep you entertained at home’, said Cr Bowles.
‘The idea here is to minimise the number of patrons in the building at one time, queuing times and unnecessary hanging around – while still meeting your reading needs. We know libraries are much more than books, and while we’d normally encourage you to take your time browsing, reading or sitting down and having a chat, we will need to move people through the library much faster than normal. And we won’t be allowing unaccompanied minors in at all’.
‘We also won’t be offering access to our public computers for the time being, and that includes the Centrelink AccessPoint terminal in our Kinglake office. We are only offering limited VicRoads services at our Alexandra Library.
‘Unfortunately, we won’t be able to resume any of our regular programs such as Storytime, Acoustica and Tuesday Talks, as we won’t be able to run them safely under the current restrictions. We also won’t be able to host meetings of our regular groups, such as Scrabble Group or craft group as we just don’t have the space to do so safely.
‘For those of you who want to access Council’s customer services, these will be open at each of our branches. But before you do so, we’d encourage you to visit our website or call us to find information you need or to make a payment. If you do need to come in, we’d encourage you to use a card for any payments as we want to avoid handling cash wherever possible – and note that we are not passing on the .75% merchant fees on credit card transactions to make that a more attractive option.
‘We have decided to permanently offer customer services from the Alexandra Library (instead of Council’s main office) and we have made some temporary changes to accommodate that in advance of a more permanent arrangement down the track. We have also made the opening hours in the Alexandra branch the same as those at our facilities in Kinglake and Yea, as it will now also be providing both library and customer services’, added Cr Bowles.
‘Our first concern here is to ensure staff and the community remain safe while we slowly re-open our facilities. Please bear with us while we re-open under restrictions, accept the temporary changes despite any inconvenience they might cause and treat our staff with kindness – they are there to help’ added Cr Bowles.