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‘Ready Reads - We select, you collect’: First steps to safe re-opening of Hampshire Libraries

Hampshire County Council’s Library Service has continued to offer digital services throughout the Coronavirus pandemic – and is now taking steps to get physical book loans started once again.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage at Hampshire County Council, said: “Not only has the Coronavirus pandemic seen an explosion in use of digital library services; but our staff have been working creatively to ensure that customers continue to enjoy a range of services beyond books and magazines – from online workshops and activities, to phone calls with our most vulnerable customers.

“Given that library buildings are not due to reopen until July, we are pulling out the stops to bridge that gap by offering paperbacks and hardbacks for loan once again, with ‘Ready Reads’. This is a new book collection service where our staff select books according to your preferences, for you to collect from your local branch.”

How ‘Ready Reads’ works:

  • Customers phone or go online to complete a form and share the types of books they would like to read.

  • Staff will use their library expertise to handpick books that customers might enjoy. It’s a chance to try something new.

  • Customers will then be contacted within five days to say when the books are ready for collection. Items will be loaned for around five weeks.

Councillor Woodward continued: “We began taking orders for Ready Reads last week, and the initial response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with lots of feedback welcoming this new way to broaden your reading. Our staff are experts at choosing good books – being so often asked for advice by library customers – and they are making the most of this opportunity to use their experience and knowledge to help customers get the best from their library, and their love of reading, even while the library buildings remain closed.”

‘Ready Reads’ is free and can be accessed by completing this online form https://bit.ly/2A7yi0h or by calling 01962 454747. Customers can choose how often and how many books they would like. Also, specific books can be chosen through the paid reservation service which has been restarted. You can reserve here: https://www.hants.gov.uk/librariesandarchives/library/reserve

Councillor Woodward added: “Looking ahead, we are really looking forward to welcoming all of our customers back into libraries in July. We will publish these details soon.”

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