As Local Government Week rolls along, Gunnedah Shire Council is reflecting on this year's theme - "Councils do" - amid the COVID crisis.
Local Government Week (August 3-9), is designed to showcase the work councils do in their local communities, including the variety of services they provide.
Gunnedah Shire Council general manager Eric Groth said the top two priorities of the council during COVID-19 were the health and safety of the community, and the continuation of essential services.
"COVID-19 has proven a rapid learning curve for everyone," Mr Groth said.
"Gunnedah Shire Council is an integral part of the community, and has a responsibility as a leader in our Shire.
"I'm proud of the way our council and our community has not only faced this significant challenge, but has found new and innovative ways to operate, some of which are likely to have benefits long after this pandemic is over."
Mr Groth said the council was about more than "roads, rates and rubbish".
"[There are] many other services that are part of our everyday lives, like the aged care provided by GoCo, the parks and sporting facilities, the cultural precinct and library and, this year in particular, support and assistance for business development," he said.
"Council has taken a lead role in ensuring the shire's economic future through programs such as Invigorate Gunnedah, alongside grants for businesses and sports and community groups."
The integral role of the library has been highlighted through a highly commended placing in the category of Special Delivery Initiative in the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards.
It was the library's Brain Training program that judges took notice of - a program that has expanded over the years and was still active during the first COVID lock-down.
Brain Training is a program devised to test different skills through "a fast and fun one-hour of puzzles and activities". It was originally aimed at adults but has since been expanded to include children and Gunnedah's aged care centres.
It is just fantastic to see people using our library, whether physically or remotely, and enjoying lifelong learning opportunities.Christiane Birkett, Gunnedah Shire Library
Librarian Christiane Birkett said Brain Training was designed as a form of 'mental gymnastics', helping engage and stimulate seniors throughout the isolation period.
"During the time the library was closed to the public, we delivered 279 brain training programs a week," Mrs Birkett said.
"Now that the library has reopened to the public we are running Brain Training again in person, and participants are enjoying the social aspect of being back in the library.
"It is just fantastic to see people using our library, whether physically or remotely, and enjoying lifelong learning opportunities."
Rose Newell, a Brain Training participant said while some of the timed activities like colouring with your left hand were challenging, the program was good fun and gave her something to think about while in isolation.
"This library has done so much for me personally. I normally visit three to four times a week, so I appreciated having these services delivered to me at home," Mrs Newell said.
Library staff members were also busy behind-the-scenes with a variety of other projects during lock-down, including:
- Organising more than 5000 weekly activity packs for both adults and children,
- Hand delivering more than 1000 library loans during the month of April, and
- Collaborating with Arts North West for the Panorama Project, helping the Gunnedah community document and exhibit their unique experiences during this challenging time.