• Editor

Libraries offer new range of ways to enjoy books

Hampshire County Council’s library service has loaned 25,000 items to more than 5,000 customers, in its first week since branches reopened. For those who may not want to spend too much time out and about at the moment, libraries are also offering a huge range of different ways to enjoy books and activities – many of which don’t involve browsing the shelves.

Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Sean Woodward, said: “Libraries began opening last week for short visits, as planned, with a very positive response from customers on the new covid-safe arrangements we’ve put in place. We are also seeing great feedback on some of the new alternative ways to borrow items – not to mention the huge range of other services and activities we are offering.

“For example, our Ready Reads service, where customers enjoy a selection of books chosen by our staff, has been enjoyed by more than 4,700 people. Ready Reads allows for a quick collection of new reading material of books hand-picked by library staff, based on a readers’ preferences.

“Our online library, which has been recently expanded in response to coronavirus, offers more than 63,430 eBooks, eAudiobooks, eNewspapers, eComics and eMagazines and is used by around 18,500 people; and our very newest addition, a new phone app that enables people to borrow and renew books without touching the self-service terminals, has been used to issue more than 100 items in the first week, and around 60 renewals.”

For very vulnerable people who may not have access to online services, and who may not wish to visit their branch library at this time, a more personal service can be arranged – such as the Home Library Service, or the Good Neighbour Scheme.

Councillor Woodward added, “While events and activities in branches aren’t able to resume just yet, we do have an online timetable of digital events and activities, including Baby Rhymetime, story time, bedtime stories, the Summer Reading Challenge, and podcasts, which are proving very popular. I’ve been really pleased to see customers embracing our diverse range of services, and hear the great feedback. I’m very proud of how much our libraries have been able to offer throughout lockdown, and the wide range of options that customers now have through the summer and beyond.”

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