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Looking for a Friend - Image by Gerd Altman

Recently I attended the online symposium Loneliness in the Digital Age presented by the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia. What I learnt from the experts discussing loneliness in today’s societies is that it affects all age groups. For young people the findings are that the more digitally connected they are the loneliest they are. And for older people, their health, their mental faculities and their lifespan decreases if they are not socially connected. For those experiencing loneliness there is shame, a loss of social skills and conversation skills and more isolation occurs.

In my library service’s communities we have been in lockdown for over eight weeks. It is a hard lockdown with a curfew, only four reasons to be outside and a time limit of one hour per day to be outside your home. Only essential workers can go to work with most workers, who are still employed, working from home. Those who live alone, see no-one in person except for the supermarket if they shop in person and not online and for families they are only interacting with themselves. The good news is that the infection rate is falling and we are now slowly coming out of lockdown with shops and services opening up safely. The more worrying news is the effect the lockdown has had on people within the community. …


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Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

To survive the Mark II Melbourne lockdown I have been signing up to some evening sessions. The Information Knowledge Group from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have a Meetup group and their recent seminar Gritting Teeth and Raising Eyebrows with Johnnie Moore from Unhurried grabbed my attention. Yes, we have spent the months since March 2020 sitting at our computers trying to work together on Zoom or Microsoft Teams and this session was pitched at helping us all stay sane and human in the process.

For many of us in library land, the working from home transition has been stressful and exhausting. We have been keeping in contact with video calls and to progress our work rather than to have that unhurried human conversation. Concentration can be hard to maintain and the Zoom Trance, where we stare at a screen while someone talks around us and our concentration wanes, happens to us all. …


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Communication is key during any emergency and this is certainly been true during this pandemic. For my Library service we had three major stakeholders. Our Library Board, representing our three member Councils, who lead the Yarra Plenty Regional Library corporation and we called special meetings to discuss the situation virtually.

Our community and library members who rely on our services and our library staff, who have to remain informed so they can continue to deliver new library services in a variety of ways. …


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Strong Girls Club at Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service

For one Library Service Reading Coordinator the Library Journal article highlighting mover and shaker Nancy Evans , then the Young Adult Librarian at the New York Levittown Public Library Service, sparked an idea. And in March 2019 the Strong Girls Club was born.

There was already a group of teenage girls using the library as a place to meet up and when introducing herself to the group there were a number of topics discussed. Body image, mental health, gender bias and discrimination to name a few. …


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Get your daily dose of wellness by reading along as we explore different ways of staying well

The Library I lead has been incredibly busy reimagining library services in lockdown and you can read more about our customer facing services here. But we have also been very aware that our library staff need more support when they also are feeling and anxious about the COVID-19 virus in their lives as well as undergoing the challenging transition to working from home. We are also asking staff to support other teams, such as our Communications team and our People and Culture team, as some areas’ workloads increased at this time.

The staff Wellness Community Hub that our People and Culture team have developed is a place staff can go to to share and talk about the challenges, coping mechanisims and daily hacks they use to get through the day. Staff are encouraged to send photos or contribute to some conversations about their lives when working from home. It has been set up on the staff Microsoft Sharepoint hub. …


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Yarra Plenty Regional Library #StayAtHome Film Festival

What happens when the library building is closed to the public due to a pandemic? Libraries deliver directly to your home is what happens! At my library service we have made it our mission to ensure we still deliver a library service to our communities — exploring new ways of connecting, delivering digitally and supporting our communities through the challenging lockdown conditions. This has meant all our staff continue to be meaningfully employed and involved in reimagining how we deliver our library service directly to the home. Staff are learning new skills, bringing previously unknown skills to their new roles and have adjusted their work times to a Monday — Friday working week and working from home. It is both a challenging and tiring time as staff are constantly innovating, iterating and adjusting to a new normal. Here are some of the most popular online programs that are being offered. …


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How Libraries Are Responding to the Coronavirus Threat and How Your Library Can Prep for Any Crisis

Here are some key tips for libraries who are offering limited services in a pandemic. These tips have been developed by a team of dedicated public library staff. First are some Basics.

The MOST important thing is to NOT TOUCH YOUR FACES while working. This stops the virus ending up where it can gain access to your body.

Staff who wear glasses and put them on and off frequently need to be very conscious of this. Wherever possible try to keep your glasses in one position.

Do not use your mobile phone while working as you are bringing it to your face and this can transfer the virus to your body. …


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Unique Teaching Resources

The International Federation Library Associations (IFLA) has recently published the IFLA Toolkit for Library Engagement in Literacy and Reading Strategies to help library associations, institutions and individual library and information workers advocate for their libraries’ role in literacy and reading. In Victoria, Australia a collaboration between State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria also developed a strategic framework Reading and Literacy for all 2015–2018 that drove a substantial body of work across all Victorian Public Libraries to improve capability and deliver of early years literacy and adult literacy services. This first framework was a major collaborative effort that was a culmination of wide and deep conversation across the library sector and involved other stakeholders who deliver literacy services including the Victorian Department of Education and Training. …


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Image Credit: Geoffrey Thierry Flickr Creative Commons

In October the Toronto Library was widely condemned by LGBQTI communities when they allowed the anti-trans feminist Meghan Murphy, to give a talk to a sell out crowd. The library as venue is a service that many public libraries offer for a fee and it brings much needed revenue to the service. According to the Canadian media, in this case the library venue was rented to a third-party group called Radical Feminists Unite.

Quoted in the BBC News Toronto Public Library Manager Vickery Bowles refused to cancel the booking, saying: “We are a democratic institution and we are standing up for free speech,” adding that Ms Murphy has never been charged with hate speech. Meghan Murphy had also organised a talk at the Vancouver Public Library to another storm of protest with the same response from the Library Service — that we as libraries stand up for free speech. …


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85th IFLA General Conference & Assembly, Athens

The theme of the IFLA WLIC 2019 was Libraries: Dialogue for Change inviting libraries globally to discuss the role they play in local communities to promote change. Libraries are open, free, democratic and inclusive and can play an increasingly important role as mediators between factional community groups and promoters of knowledge and truth. IFLA has an active membership of over 1400 members (Library Associations across the world) with well established relationships with the United Nations and other International organisations to advance the cause of libraries the world over.

The large Vendor Exhibition Hall is another key attraction for librarians globally and the Exhibition Opening event on Sunday 25th August was a way to meet the vendors in a relaxed social setting. …

About

Jane Cowell

Librarian, interested in libraries, digital disruption, startups, Australian politics

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