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The Story Continues for Libraries after Lockdown

The Story Continues for Libraries after Lockdown

Written by Tabitha Witherick 

So often people tilt their heads and say, “Ah that must be a nice job” when I tell them I work in libraries. And in many ways, it’s true. I love my work, but not for the reasons people expect! 

This last year has had its challenges for us all. I could never have anticipated landing my dream job in the middle of a global pandemic, but in many ways, our focus on people and community has never been more critical.   

It’s sure been a rollercoaster ride and, like many managers around the world, the risk of running out of steam has been very real. But as the days pass, I feel a growing sense of opportunity and energy for what the future holds. 

Reading has captured imaginations during lockdown and I’m pleased to say our libraries are teeming with new adventures and escapism, both in physical books and our digital library of eBooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers.  

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It feels like there are green shoots and many budding businesses will benefit from our Business and IP Centre programmes, including the She Started It package and our Bedroom to Business events. 

We’re welcoming people back to use our study spaces and that all important free WiFi, as well as offering rooms for hire for those who are mainly working from home and want a space to collaborate. 

We want to learn and adapt too. Research and data is already showing us that behaviours and needs have been changed by lockdowns. And we’re only just starting to understand the longer-term health impacts. Even though we’ve been supporting people with their health and wellbeing for years, we may need to unlearn some of our methods and consider new and creative ways to engage and support. I’ve been enjoying Exeter Library’s TikTok recently, which is growing popular. 

We all missed the sense of real-life connection during lockdowns, and some of our events and projects are designed to bring people back together and reduce feelings of isolation. The Lost Librarian, our ground-breaking escape room for inquisitive explorers, has been captivating small groups and our cafes (and cake) are lifting with the chatter of friends and neighbours once again. Our Finding Connection through loss project, launching later in the year, will help communities explore their sense of loss; of loved ones, of employment, of community connection. 

So yes, my job working with a dynamic team to support people and surprise communities is “a nice job”. Come to think of it, it’s the best job! 
Tabitha Witherick, Head of Library Service and Customer Experience at Libraries Unlimited. 

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Libraries Unlimited is the charity responsible for running Devon and Torbay Libraries. For further information and full contact details please visit our web page Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn 

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