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THIS WEEK


COVENTRY LIBRARIES TURNED A CANAL BOAT INTO A MOBILE LIBRARY


Library Focus The Lead Story


Libraries seek assurances after lockdown successes in connecting with readers


After innovating in lockdown to remain connected with readers, in many instances upping their digital offer, libraries are hoping for more support from councils going forward


Heloise Wood @saltounite L 06


ibraries proved their worth through lockdown, changing the “hearts and minds” of many councillors about their value and relevance, sector leaders have told The Bookseller. However, there are also warnings that some councils may have seen temporary closures throughout Covid as an opportunit to instigate more closures of library premises.


Although physical library buildings had to close in March 2020, many services pivoted their services to online, sometimes creating entirely new initiatives. One in three people in the UK used libraries over lockdown, according to a 2020 Carnegie UK Trust report,


3rd September 2021 Making a Difference.


As well as directing resources towards e-books, audiobooks and educational resources for children’s home-learning, librar- ies delivered a wide range of online events as well as keeping-in-touch phone calls, home delivery services and information provision. Nick Poole, c.e.o. of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), is among many who believe lock- down demonstrated the value and versatilit of libraries. “The libraries have absolutely come out swinging,” he says. “While that initial closure process was messy, immediately aſter that libraries started geting creative with


supporting users with the doors closed, [creat- ing] a huge amount of online content.” Charit Libraries Connected created a Libraries at Home website to share tools and tips. Its c.e.o. Isabel Hunter listed multiple examples of creativit she saw developing: “There has been a shiſt to services online, pushing e-lending but also developing a whole new range of online events. As the weeks went on these became a lot more interactive. Kingston [in south-west London] was one of the first to do online storytimes and they had tens of thousands tuning in, which was extraordinary.” As well as storytimes and Rhyme Time, code clubs and reading groups boomed in lockdown when they went online. Many staff also developed creative


strategies to mitigate the potential extreme isolation of their elderly users, with fewer digital skills. According to the Carnegie UK Trust research, an “overwhelming” number worried about the impact of digital exclusion for its users. St Helen’s Library Service in


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