City of online literature

The CBD and surrounds is defined in part by its public libraries, with Melbourne listed as a UNESCO City of Literature. There is something iconic, and unique, about the State Library of Victoria, the City Library, Boyd and the Library at the Dock.

As our readers know, those libraries were all shut in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But the City of Melbourne has seen a major spike in demand for its online library services as Melburnians practice social distancing and stay indoors.

Thousands of free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, online newspapers, films, videos and learning resources have been accessed in the past month. 

The Lord Mayor Sally Capp said there had been a 23 per cent surge in eLibrary usage compared to this time last year, with eAudiobooks the most popular service.

“Now more than ever people are taking advantage of our incredibly large and free library resources, even when they can’t physically come into our libraries,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve recorded our highest ever online loans for a single month with 19,182 loans; this includes 8837 eBook loans and 10,345 eAudiobook loans.”

“Our children’s librarians are also delivering online story time sessions through our YouTube channel.”

The Lord Mayor said the municipality’s libraries were some of the best resourced in the country.

In partnership with Beamafilm and Kanopy, City of Melbourne library members can access free TV shows, educational videos, art house films and documentaries. Members can also download free music through Freegal.

Film streaming through City of Melbourne library services jumped 54 per cent last month. Beamafilm has doubled its average streams per month, while Kanopy usage has spiked with 3666 films streamed in March, the highest ever usage in one month.

Chair of the Knowledge City portfolio Coucillor Dr Jackie Watts said that, even before the pandemic, the City of Melbourne’s libraries were experiencing a resurgence.

“We are all adjusting our lives to cope with COVID-19 and many of us may be looking for new activities. I encourage everyone to take a good look at the City of Melbourne’s website to explore the impressive range of services and resources our libraries have to offer – for free.”

Library book chutes across the City of Melbourne’s libraries are currently closed for the health and safety of staff and the community. Those who need to return an item have been encouraged to do so when libraries reopen. Fines for this period will be waived •

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