Spike in demand for online library services

The City of Melbourne has seen a major spike in demand for its online library services as Melburnians practise social-distancing and stay indoors.

While libraries across the municipality are closed, services are continuing to be provided online. Thousands of free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, online newspapers, films, videos and learning resources have been accessed in the past month.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said there’s been a 23 per cent surge in eLibrary usage compared to this time last year, with eAudiobooks the most popular service.

“Now more than ever people are taking advantage of our incredibly large and free library resources, even when they can’t physically come into our libraries,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve recorded our highest ever online loans for a single month with 19,182 loans; this includes 8,837 eBook loans and 10,345 eAudiobook loans.

“The City of Melbourne’s libraries are some of the best resourced in the country and offer a huge array of free materials, whether it’s eBooks or eAudiobooks, online learning or TV shows and films.

“Our children’s librarians are also delivering online storytime sessions through our Youtube channel.”

In partnership with Beamafilm and Kanopy, City of Melbourne library members can access free TV shows, educational videos, art house films and documentaries. Members can also download free music through Freegal.

Film streaming through City of Melbourne library services jumped 54 per cent last month. Beamafilm has doubled its average streams per month, while Kanopy usage has spiked with 3,666 films streamed in March; the highest ever usage in one month.

Chair of the Knowledge City portfolio, Councillor Dr Jackie Watts, said even before the COVID-19 pandemic the City of Melbourne’s libraries were experiencing a resurgence.

“Libraries are no longer just a place to borrow a book, they’re an all-encompassing space enabling the community to learn about and have free access to new technologies,” Cr Watts said.

“We are all adjusting our lives to cope with COVID-19 and many of us may be looking for new activities. I encourage everyone to take a good look at the City of Melbourne’s website to explore the impressive range of services and resources our libraries have to offer – for free.”

Library book chutes across the City of Melbourne’s libraries are currently closed for the health and safety of staff and the community. Those who need to return an item have been encouraged to do so when libraries reopen. Fines for this period will be waived.

Melbourne is one of 39 cities from around the world recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature. To view the City of Melbourne’s online library services, visit the City of Melbourne website. 

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