North Yorkshire library users delighted to be back as Covid-19 restrictions ease

Library customers in North Yorkshire have embraced the opportunity to return to branches to choose books for themselves following this month’s easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 11:00 am

In the first week of reopening from April 12, the county’s libraries welcomed 5,125 visitors, who borrowed almost 21,000 books, and hosted 1,350 computer bookings.

Customers have shared their delight at being back.

At Whitby Library, after telling a customer about all the new books that we had ready to offer customers, supervisor Sara Johnson said: “One customer was so excited about the new book selections that she wished she had a wheeled suitcase with her to take home what she wanted."

Excited young visitors happily looking for new books in Whitby Library's junior section.

Supervisor, Katy Lane-Ryan, also said on the first day of re-opening that her favourite comment of the day was when one child had said to her with a beaming face: “It was just like Christmas being among all the new books!”

County Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “It has been wonderful to hear the feedback from people saying how lovely it is to be able to return to their library.

"This confirms our belief about how important libraries are to so many of the county’s residents.

"It’s great to see branches open again and I hope this time they will be able to remain open.”

The library service has invested in its online offer, from e-books and e-audio books to newspapers and magazines, research and reference material and educational resources.

Funding that, in normal years, would have been spent elsewhere within the service has been diverted to increase the e-book stock even more than planned.

Since April 2020, 311,000 digital books have been borrowed.

Libraries General Manager Chrys Mellor said: “We have seen an increase of almost 90 per cent in digital loans - and this is from a starting position of having some of the highest digital usage in the country.

"Because of the rural nature of North Yorkshire we have always invested in digital services to be more accessible to more people.”

Physical stock has not been neglected, with about 44,000 hardbacks added to library shelves for returning customers to enjoy.

A Select and Collect service introduced in the past year has proved popular.

It allows people to contact their library to request the sort of books they want, then collect a selection picked by a member of staff or a volunteer from their library’s entrance.

Up to 10,000 books a week have been borrowed in this way. The service is still available.

A survey of people who used Select and Collect revealed that 93 per cent said it helped them cope with lockdown; 95 per cent said it helped to improve their sense of wellbeing; and 92 per cent said it helped them to feel less isolated.