Northern Beaches Council, NSW
Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown of 2021, public libraries across NSW were required to close, reducing access to arts and cultural opportunities for local communities. To address this, the Northern Beaches Council implemented Library2U, a special home delivery service making the library’s physical collection accessible to all.
Whilst digital resources increased in popularity and demand during this time, Council was aware online offerings alone would not be suitable for all community members. The goal of Library2U was to keep everyone in the community connected by providing equal access to valuable cultural resources that otherwise would not have been used. Library2U was one of the only services in NSW that not only allowed the community to access books, DVDs, CDs, creative kits, and other items during lockdown, but also provided a safe and convenient home delivery service. This innovative outreach program ensured our community members felt connected and included through cultural resources during times of great stress, isolation and uncertainty.
Library2U was implemented from the first week of lockdown, without a break in service to customers, thanks to quick and collaborative efforts from many Council units. 73,210 physical items were loaned and delivered by 33,239 COVID-safe deliveries through the program. To put this into perspective, one item was loaned approximately every two minutes for the duration of the service, demonstrating its immense popularity and importance. 29,546 individuals used the service, with 409 new members joining during lockdown.
The success of Library2U as an innovative cultural outreach service was demonstrated by the overwhelmingly positive response from the community. A few examples of the feedback received described the program as “a godsend” and “life-saving”, as well “you are my bright light in lockdown” and “this is a wonderful lift to my spirits”. The positive feedback and expressions of gratitude continue to roll in as the library doors opened in October and customers returned to the physical space.
The Award Category
This award recognises local government projects which:
- create vibrant, cohesive communities that use arts and culture to support community
- embrace wellbeing, diversity and encourage social inclusion through community participation in artistic activities
- leverage arts and culture to improve community sustainability and increase local economic opportunity.
Arts and culture add value to Australia and benefit our economy, health and wellbeing, society and education by:
- fostering opportunities for the enjoyment of the arts through broad community engagement
- establishing local arts hubs for community arts, performances and exhibitions
- supporting arts initiatives that foster inclusion and skill development.