I am delighted that we can at last begin to reopen our services after such a long lockdown. Although we didn’t go away completely – our members all had access to a range of online services.

But, now that we are able to be back in our buildings, we can begin to open up access to our main bookstock and our public access pcs in our larger libraries – Acomb, York, Tang Hall and Clifton.  We are offering a click and collect service, much like in the supermarkets.  Just tell us what you want and we will give you a timeslot to collect the books.

We are also launching the Summer Reading Challenge for children.  This year it is The Silly Squad and it is mostly an online challenge, but children will now be able to borrow actual books to help them complete the challenge.

We’ve all had to find new ways of working through this lockdown and I’m so proud of Explore staff who have risen to the challenge.  One of our librarians has received national recognition from Libraries Connected for the work she has done developing online services for libraries.  I have been part of a national working group that developed a toolkit for libraries re-opening.

The lockdown presented all of us with an opportunity to take a step forward with what online services we provide.   It only took a few days for us to be used to Zoom meetings.  These have meant that we have been able to keep in touch with library and archive services across the country as well as people across York.  The development work has continued, in fact we have been able to do some thinking about how we can  improve our online services.

It was amazing how easily we all became used to working in different ways once the lockdown started.  This shows how easy change can be if we all work together and are focused on a single outcome.  We want to hold onto all the good that came from the lockdown – the partnerships and the working without bureaucracy and develop them so we are able to deliver more for the people of York.  So, we will continue to use Zoom for workshops and meetings, it saves time and money and is greener than having people travel to meetings.  We will ensure that there is an online element to everything we do and we are working hard to ensure that everyone in York has access to online services and the skills to use them.

Do tell us if you have used our online services and what different they made to your lives during the lockdown.  We want to collect as much information as possible about the impact we made so that we can continue to improve and develop.

Fiona Williams