CORONAVIRUS: Hundreds sign up for online library services

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Hundreds of residents have signed up to the Warwickshire Libraries eBook borrowing service following the closure of all of the county’s library buildings due to the coronavirus.

More than 500 users have recently signed up to the service as staff work hard to ensure that people still have access to digital books, music and other library material.

The Warwickshire County Council library service has increased its stock of eBooks since the start of the pandemic and is providing a virtual service that includes online borrowing and lunchtime library chats on social media.

Warwickshire County Council’s strategic director for resources, Rob Powell, said: “Having 500 new library customers sign up in such a short period of time has meant a 300% increase in our online library users compared to the same time period last month. We are absolutely delighted by the uptake!

“These are unusual and challenging times and like everybody, we are adapting and doing things in a different way to help keep people happy and safe in their homes.

“While our library buildings are sadly shut for the time being, our digital library teams are very busy ensuring all our new customers have their account details so they can start enjoying the benefits of library services online.”

The BorrowBox service, which offers eBooks and eAudiobooks, has already proved to be extremely popular with Warwickshire library customers, enabling residents to access library items whenever and wherever they are.

Described as “your library in one app”, Warwickshire Libraries staff have made a video that explains, step-by-step, how customers can download and use the app so they can read and listen to books for free on devices including iPads and Kindles. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ch5GK61p-I

Warwickshire County Council’s libraries staff are also making extra items available online, working with digital library suppliers so that an increasing amount of digital content is available for residents to access.

In addition to free eMagazines and eNewspapers from PressReader and RB Digital, streamed classical music from Naxos Music Library, and free online languages courses from Duolingo, library staff have just arranged free access to scholarly material from Bloomsbury Digital Resources and free access to medici.tv, the largest online catalogue of classical music videos.

All you need to access these for free are your library card number and email address. Visit https://library.warwickshire.gov.uk/ to find out how.

If you’re not already a Warwickshire Libraries member you can join online, visit https://library.warwickshire.gov.uk/ and click ‘Join Online’. Library staff will send you your membership number and then you can get started straight away!

library staff are also using their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in new ways, hosting regular ‘lunchtime library chats’ on social media where people can discuss their favourite books.

The online chats have already proved very popular and the idea has received praise from other libraries across the UK.

Follow Warwickshire Libraries on social media on Twitter (@warkslibraries), on Facebook (warwickshirelibraries) and on Instagram (Warwickshire_libraries) to be part of the conversation.

For help with all library services, you can still contact the virtual library enquiry service by emailing libraryenquiryteam@warwickshire.gov.uk.

You can also read the Library Blog at librariesblog.warwickshire.gov.uk and sign up to the receive new weekly updates on Warwickshire Libraries that will include all the latest news on new library digital services, including virtual story time sessions, at https://mailchi.mp/warwickshire/libraries.

Reading is more important than ever in supporting children’s creativity and learning, and Warwickshire libraries and museum staff are exploring how they can offer resource library boxes to schools that will remain open to the children of key workers after Easter.

As part of the County Council’s wider work to help people who are isolating at home, staff are also developing libraries services that will include doorstep book deliveries, a weekly ‘check in’ phone call and weekly activities programmes to help support the wellbeing of vulnerable residents who are isolating for 12 weeks. If you are self-isolating and are interested in receiving this service, contact libraryenquiryteam@warwickshire.gov.uk.