LIBRARIES in central Victoria are helping those without internet access stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Goldfields Library Corporation has a plethora of online resources for members, including e-books, audio books, and movies.
But manager of engagement Lucy Mayes said the service also wanted to support those who couldn't access the online resources.
"Library spaces mean an awful lot to the more socially isolated members of the community," she said.
"Our staff have been particularly conscious and mindful of these people, and have been wondering how they are going.
"Our staff have been doing everything they can to reach out. They have identified the patrons who are regulars at the library and are calling to check in on them.
"We recognise that the library is an essential place for community connection. We're finding ways to keep that connection."
Ms Mayes said that program - Ask a Librarian - was already supporting many central Victorians.
She said people only needed to call or email their local library branch and leave a message.
A staff member would then get back to them to either assist with book suggestions, research, and reference enquiries, or even just to have a chat.
Staff are also able to read a short story, poem, or part of a book to those people over the phone.
"We're trying to be really proactive," Ms Mayes said. "Although restrictions might ease, many who are vulnerable will continue to self-isolate for health and safety reasons.
"The world has changed a lot and we want to continue to support those people.
"Some people might still think that a library is just a place where books are on a shelf.
"But we want to get the message out there that libraries are actually community hubs where people can connect."
Ms Mayes said the Goldfields Library Corporation was also leading a project to capture this moment in history.
People are encouraged to contribute photographs, artwork, journal entries, or videos that explain what they are doing, feeling, and experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The project came about of the Regional Archive Centre, which is based at the Bendigo Library," Ms Mayes said.
"As soon as the restrictions started, the manager of that service said we need to do something.
"Many people come in here for information and history about the Spanish Flu. People will be doing the same in 100 years time about this pandemic. She said it was our job to capture this story.
"So we want to have a record that is very specific to our region. We want to find out how people have found hope and resilience during this pandemic."
Ms Mayes said people could contribute their stories to email@example.com
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