THE use of online resources at Lancashire libraries has ‘increased significantly’ since the coronavirus lockdown began.
Although libraries are currently closed in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, bookworms can still access a variety of resources such as eBooks, audiobooks, newspapers, comics and magazines.
More people are accessing digital books and audiobooks through BorrowBox since the coronavirus outbreak, as people find new ways to keep themselves occupied while staying at home. There has been a rise of 2,670 people signing up for the service since January.
The loans of eAudiobooks increased from 11,771 loans in January to 15,484 loans in March. The increase in eBooks is even greater with loans increasing from 9,845 in January to 14,261 in April.
An additional 2,500 eAudiobooks and over 2,000 eBooks have been purchased to meet the demand. New titles are being added frequently to ensure that there is plenty of choice and availability of titles for anyone wanting to access the service.
In addition to the significant extra funding committed by the county council to help people during the crisis, additional funding of £1,000 has also been received from Arts Council England and another £1000 from eBook provider, Bolinda.
New digital activities have also been launched, with different activities on social media. These include:
- The Monday Lego Club on Twitter and Facebook.
- A lunchtime break book club also takes place every two weeks on Twitter.
Library audiences across the county can also enjoy a story performed by Spot On Lancashire each week. A specific session is performed for children, and another one for adults.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We know how much people in Lancashire value their libraries.
“While branches must be closed to help to combat the spread of Covid-19, it’s fantastic to see that more people than ever are discovering and enjoying the wide range of online material we offer, with a surge in requests for online resources.
“We want to support people as much as possible during this time.
“That’s why we have launched more digital services for home use and why our staff are working online to continue to engage with families in the many library activities.
“We have been delivering online 24/7 services for a number of years and we have continued to develop and add online content whenever we can.
“In the current challenging time when our library buildings are closed these are now more relevant than ever.”
Other services available include:
- The Lancashire Volunteer Partnership's telephone befriending service whilst the home library service is temporarily stopped due to coronavirus.
- Online resources which are a useful tool for parents who are home schooling their children.
- Remote access has also been arranged for library members to the popular family history resource Ancestry.com
- The service Ask a Lancashire Librarian, where our librarians staff a web-based enquiry service Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm has continued. Out of those hours you can submit a question and the service will get back to you the next working day.
- A new magazine, newspaper and comic download library.
Customers will not be charged for the late return of any items during the period that the libraries are closed. Customers are asked to renew their books online if they are able to, or by calling 0300 123 6704. Library users are being asked to hold onto their books and not try to post them through letter boxes or leave them outside libraries. For more information, go to www.lancashire.gov.uk/libraries