Residents encouraged to take advantage of online services as libraries & museums remain closed
Posted on 7 Jul 2020
North Ayrshire residents are being encouraged to take advantage of online cultural services while libraries and museums remain closed over summer to allow the Council to continue its Community and Childcare Hub provision.
Staff from the Council’s Connected Communities department, including those from libraries, museums, ranger service, youth services, active schools and locality teams, have played a key role in developing and running the hub provision throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
The majority of these employees have been redeployed to the area’s Childcare Hubs, looking after children who need extra support and those whose parents are carrying out essential work on the frontline. This provision will continue over the summer holidays.
The remaining staff are playing key roles in Community Hubs, providing support and advice to vulnerable residents as the effects of Covid-19 continue – and this is expected to continue for some time.
This means that libraries and museums will be unable to re-open at the moment and users are being urged to take advantage of a wide range of alternative heritage and cultural services.
During this time, residents will continue to have access to an extensive digital library service offering ebooks, audio books, music, magazines and newly introduced community activities such as Bookbug session and author talks.
The Harbour Arts Centre’s online programme ‘At Home @ the Hac’, will continue across the summer months. Residents can tune in via Facebook or YouTube.
And the Heritage Centre in Saltcoats is sharing important parts of North Ayrshire’s fascinating history thanks to the power of Facebook and Twitter.
During lockdown, these services have seen a 143% rise in Facebook engagement compared with the same period last year – showing how flexible and adaptable service users have become.
Over 1,000 digital devices and wi-fi boxes are being provided to families across North Ayrshire giving children and young people online access to carry on with their learning. A further 180 devices will be available to eligible adults through the Council’s partnership with Connecting Scotland.
The Council is also monitoring the digital access needs of job seekers and working in partnership with employability partners to ensure they can get access safely to complete online job applications.
For vulnerable residents, the Council will continue its home library service – delivering books to eligible households through the Community Hubs.
An exciting new ‘Click and Collect’ service is also being developed and expected to launch later this month which will allow residents to order and pick up a selection of their favourite books.
Councillor Louise McPhater, Cabinet Member for Participatory Democracy, said: “The decision to keep our libraries and cultural services closed was one that was not taken lightly, but was taken out of necessity.
“It is no secret that the Covid-19 crisis has hit our communities hard, particularly those already vulnerable and struggling. Our Council’s vision is to create a ‘North Ayrshire that is fair for all’ – and we hope our response to the pandemic has shown just how serious we are about this commitment.
“A large part of our response has been the introduction of our Community and Childcare Hubs and we are extremely proud and grateful to all the staff and volunteers who have helped make this possible and who are providing support and advice to our residents throughout the crisis.
“We’re not yet over the hurdle with the virus and it’s almost certain that it will have a detrimental effect on our communities for many weeks and months to come. That’s why it is vital that our Hubs continue. But to do so, they need our passionate, kind and hard-working staff at the driving seat – and that is why our libraries and cultural services have to remain closed for the time being.
“While we cannot confirm a date as to when our libraries and cultural services will reopen to the public, we will keep this under constant review.
“In the meantime, we have a fantastic digital offering available, free of charge, and an exciting new ‘Click and Collect’ service on the way – look out for more information on this shortly.”
Check out the Council’s Libraries and Cultural Services Digital Resource Pack(PDF, 1.05mb) for details on the provision available as well as links to get involved. More information is available available through Frequenty Asked Questions(PDF, 254kb).