Douglas Libraries are open for business


Karlie Brady


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Just some of the smiling faces of the Douglas Libraries Team: Debbie Somersall, Alison Richardson, Deirdre Whiteley, and Amanda O'Brien. Image: Karlie Brady.

The Douglas Libraries are more than just rooms full of books, they are buzzing hubs of learning and community interaction.

After being forced to shut their doors during the height of COVID restrictions, the Libraries are now fully open, and the team is eager to welcome the community back in.

There are a number of COVIDSafe practices in place, however, the time limits that were initially implemented in the Mossman Library after reopening to control numbers, have been lifted and library-goers are free to browse the shelves or surf the internet to their heart's content.

The Port Douglas Library subbranch at the Port Douglas Community Hall is also up and running but time limits may apply due to the smaller space.

Douglas Shire Libraries Team Leader, Debbie Somersall, said even when closed they never stopped serving the community, offering a contactless call and collect service for those wanting to get their hands on a book.

“That was very well received, and a lot of people used it,” she said.

Now reopened, Ms Somersall said they are slowly seeing life return to the library.

“We’re here, we're open and we're taking every possible step to make sure that it's a safe space.

“We have taken extra precautions because we do have a lot of vulnerable members of the community who use the library so we’re really intent on keeping the space as safe as we possibly can.

“All items that are returned also undergo a four-day quarantine just in case, as industry research shows the lifespan of the virus on library items is less than four days.”

It’s not all about books in the library, however, with a number of community programs and workshops on offer, from storytimes for young families to digital literacy programs for tech-savvy seniors.

All programs have been put on hold thanks to COVID, however, Ms Somersall said they have taken one of their most popular programs, Fist 5 Forever, online, via their Facebook page.

“Our Fist 5 Forever programs are aimed at children and young families and help to support literacy in those under-five years of age,” she said.

The Fist 5 Forever program is run by the library team, which includes former teachers, and aims to help parents to see that any interaction with their kids is an opportunity to help them learn.

“It's all learning before five-years-old and music, play, and books is a really good way for kids to do that.”

Next month the Library plans to re-start some of its Fist 5 Forever programs in person.

“It's not going to be in the library because of the space restrictions and social distancing so we're going to take it out into larger venues,” Ms Somersall said.

“Our first program will be a storytime and it is going to be in the Mossman Shire Hall on 6 August. Bookings will be essential because numbers will be limited.”

Ms Somersall said the team is planning more events and hopes to hold a First 5 Forever program each week throughout August in different locations around the Shire.

“We are also adding a brand new First 5 Forever program called the First 5 Playdate, which is basically a pop-up library in different locations,” she said.

For those a little older the library is also looking to extend its digital training programs in the future.

“I think, especially now that many people are looking for new jobs, there are a lot of people who could do with digital support for retraining and upskilling and through the library, we have access to some fantastic online learning resources,” Ms Somersall said.

She added that the library is always looking for volunteers to help with their programs and workshops so if you would like to get involved contact Douglas Libraries.

“Check out our Facebook page where we will be promoting what is happening around the Library or sign up for our newsletter.”

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