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LIV Library stays open for business during lockdown

LIV Library stays open for business during lockdown

By Karin Derkley

LIV Library 


A combination of technology, clever pivoting and help from interstate colleagues has enabled the LIV Library to give members continued access to its services and materials during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The library has been spread across three households during the lockdown, with library manager Tasia Mitsinikos, reference librarian Josie Cox and assistant librarian Renata Mason successfully fielding requests for materials from members over the past six months.

"Even though the library is physically closed, you can still ring or email us,” Ms Mitsinikos says. "We’re still here, we’re just working from home."

The library has been steadily acquiring electronic texts available on the Lexis Red and CCH platforms for the past few years, providing suburban and regional members with easy access to texts that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars.

But while the library has been in lockdown, the service has become invaluable to all members. “Those platforms mean people can now have access to those texts as needed any time of the day or night,” Ms Mitsinikos says.

Over the past six months the library has also been uploading publications for the use of members. "We're always buying texts that people are requesting, or that we know are topical," Ms Mitsinikos says. "In the past we'd buy hard copies, but over the past few months we've been buying them as electronic texts."

Hard copy books have also been arriving at the homes of the three since the lockdown, and chapters from these can be scanned by request.

For requests for chapters from books or hard copy journals held in the locked down library, the librarians have been able to call on help from colleagues in states such as South Australia not subject to the same restrictions as Melbourne.

"People can put in a request for document supply as usual, and if it's on an electronic database or journal, we can supply that. And if it’s in hard copy form we can find out how to source it from somewhere else," Ms Mitsinikos says.

The first couple of months of getting the library system up and running from home involved an exponential learning curve, she says. "We had to think outside of the box and do a lot of problem solving."

The library reference desk number was rerouted to ring at all three sites, so members calling in are usually connected immediately with a staff member. Research work previously done in the office is now done via email, phone and instant messaging systems. The library cataloguing system, which is normally housed on the intranet, had to be made available to an external environment.

"It's been challenging, but it means we've been able to continue to provide a level of service to our members," Ms Mitsinikos says.

Find out more about the library's services on the website here.

You can contact the library team on (03) 9607 9360 or

Photo: Reference librarian Josie Cox and library manager Tasia Mitsinikos in pre-Covid days.

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