Bookworms have borrowed more than 24,000 ebooks and emagazines from Renfrewshire’s libraries during lockdown.
The remarkable figure – representing an 80 per cent rise on this time last year – is among a string of successes secured by library staff as they’ve met massive demand for services online during the coronavirus crisis.
Renfrewshire Leisure will begin the gradual restart of physical operations at its libraries on Monday as part of the latest phase of the community’s route map out of the pandemic, starting with a click and collect service.
But libraries staff will continue to develop their online offering in tandem with in-library services after experiencing huge demand for activities including quizzes, games, storytimes and writing workshops.
Between 18th March and 13th July, Renfrewshire Leisure recorded 24,000 eloans – 16,963 ebooks and audiobooks and 7,096 emagazines. That compares to 9,267 ebooks and audiobooks and 4,096 emagazines – a 13,363 total – between the same dates last year
Joyce Higgins, Digital and Library Development Manager at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “While we may not have physically had people visiting our libraries in the past few months, our online engagement has gone through the roof. We have been blown away by the engagement in the services and activities we have been running online and via social media.
“Our team have done a tremendous job in the way they have innovated, reimagined some of our services for online and ensured that – despite our physical buildings having been closed – we have continued to work with huge numbers of people across Renfrewshire to support their health and wellbeing during lockdown.
“We are excited about continuing to develop our online offering.”
Other online successes include the Bookbug sessions, which have been led by Kirstie Burns, a volunteer at Renfrew Library. She started her sessions from the first week of lockdown, broadcasting them on YouTube. She has produced 15 sessions which have had about 80,000 video views.
A series of Libraries Live Lunchtime Quizzes – broadcast via Facebook Live – have also been viewed more than 10,000 times.
The Skoobmobile team have been keeping in-touch with families through storytimes on RENTV channel including readings of “Oi Frog!” by Kes Gray and “Whiffy Wilson the Wolf who wouldn’t wash” by Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord.
Meanwhile, The Reading Agency and Renfrewshire Libraries are excited to introduce Silly Squad, Summer Reading Challenge 2020. The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and read all kinds of funny books. More than 200 children have already signed up to take part in the challenge, which is digital this year. Visit www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for more details.
All 12 of the libraries will be open for returns and for borrowing on a click and collect basis, as part of measures being put in place to ensure the safety of staff and library users. Books can be reserved online at www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk or by telephone on 0300 300 1188. Access to buildings will be on a one in, one out basis. Each one will have a simple drop-off point for returns.
On top of this, staff will continue with the Libraries Direct service they have been operating throughout lockdown. This has seen them work with volunteers and Renfrewshire Council to deliver books and make wellbeing phone calls to people who have been shielding in their homes throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Morag Macpherson, Head of Cultural Services at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “Our libraries team can be really proud of the work they have done during lockdown. I’m delighted with what we have achieved and look forward to developing our online services further, in tandem with what we offer in our library buildings as our services restart there.”
As well as the click and collect service, people will be able to phone library staff for recommendations and will contact them when their book is ready to collect. Computers in the libraries are not yet available for public use.
Social distancing and hygiene requirements will be clearly displayed at each building.
Renfrewshire Leisure’s libraries are at: Bishopton; Bridge of Weir; Erskine; Ferguslie; Foxbar; Glenburn; Johnstone; Lochwinnoch; Linwood; Paisley Central Library; Ralston and Renfrew.