Welcome back to our beloved libraries (@Library_Vic @EasternRegional)

Image thanks to: Gaggia Gilda, c.1954. One of the home espresso machines from the collection of Sylvester Longo, Digital photographs, State Library Victoria. “Compact yet stylish espresso machines brought the allure of cafe life into Australian homes in the 1950s. A cafe scene was established in Australia by European migrants who settled here after World War II, introducing a connoisseurship for the humble bean.”

Readers rejoice! Our public libraries are opening up! Apart from browsing and/or checking out the latest books, magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs, all on-site and in-person services are becoming available once again.

For those wanting an outing in the city, State Library Victoria (SLV) will reopen on Wednesday 3 November, although the Russell Street Welcome Zone and Readings bookshop will stay shut until January 2022. Masks will remain mandatory inside the library at all times.

All visitors to SLV will also need to check-in using the Services Victoria app and provide proof that they are fully vaccinated, either with a digital certificate or a printed copy of it.

We are just in time to view SLV’s first Window on Collections display, the “Rural and Regional Photography Commission”. It features a selection of 30 photographs highlighting the lived experiences of rural and regional Victorians in 2020, during the devastating bushfire season and then the COVID global pandemic.

These images shed light on local stories of courage, loss and resilience, captured by photographers from rural and regional communities with which they each share a deep and personal connection. Many of them feature Victoria’s unsung heroes, from frontline workers such as nurses, firefighters and supermarket staff, to parents doing homeschooling and those helping neighbours and strangers alike.

Another exhibition worth seeing at SLV is “The Changing Face of Victoria”, which explores the spirit of activism and invention and its impact on our modern state. There are everyday themes – water, workers’ rights, camping and coffee – with more than 150 objects, artworks and photographers carefully curated to showcase some of the ways we can all make a difference in shaping our world.

90 percent of these collection items have never been exhibited before, including a series of funky espresso machines that were introduced to Australia by European migrants in the 1950s. So little was known about these machines that cafe owners across Melbourne were required to obtain a boilermaker’s license before they could operate them.

Now, surely you would say, you don’t need to go to the city to enjoy a nice cup of coffee? Indeed, for those preferring to stay local, Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL) will throw open their doors on Monday 8 November. The aforementioned rules such as wearing masks, checking in and providing proof of vaccination will apply.

It is worth mentioning that ERL supports all readers in proving their vaccination status and accessing all 13 branch libraries. Readers can send in their digital certificates to be printed and ready to collect when they arrive at the library. Those who need help setting up their digital certificates can access the highly succinct and user-friendly guides on the ERL website.

Meanwhile, ERL will continue to offer a diverse range of online events and services, including but not limited to storytimes, guest speakers and presenters, and tech help sessions. “Click & Collect”, which has helped so many readers across Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges during the lengthy lockdown, will also continue.

Note: This article was originally published under the title “Welcome back to libraries” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, November 2, 2021, P.8.

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