Northumberland libraries prepare to mark new chapter as popularity continues to grow

A new campaign has been launched to welcome people back to libraries in Northumberland following Covid restrictions.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 10:26 am
Anne Blackburn, Senior Assistant Librarian at Prudhoe Library, prepares to mark Libraries Week.

The ‘Turn the Page on a new chapter’ initiative aims to promote the positive impact libraries have on local communities following a huge resurgence during the worst of the pandemic.

Due to limited leisure opportunities, more people turned to Northumberland libraries services and its offer of vital entertainment, enjoyment, reassurance and companionship.

Many people took advantage of the libraries’ services, many for the first time with membership standing at more than 57,755.

Since Covid began there has been a 302 per cent increase in people signing up for the digital library, with 125,793 ebooks and eAudiobooks downloaded. There have also been 144,118 “PressReader” sessions, allowing members to access newspapers and magazines from around the world.

The launch of the new campaign coincides with National Libraries Week, an annual celebration of all that libraries offer in the 21st century.

Cllr Jeff Watson, cabinet member for libraries at Northumberland County Council, said: “Library services are far more than buildings.

“During the lockdowns staff went the extra mile to ensure that even when members weren’t able to go into a library they could still enjoy reading.

“We introduced things like the ‘befriending’ service where staff would keep in regular touch with anyone who was feeling isolated and have a chat over the phone about what books they were enjoying.

“We also offered a ‘select and collect’ service, where staff would carefully choose books for members to be collected at a time suitable to them.

“Virtual support and reading groups were set up to help new mums and we delivered to more than 200 members with our doorstep delivery service.

“Now we are delighted to be able to welcome people back into our 30 Covid-safe libraries, where staff are really enjoying being able to chat face-to-face.

“We certainly are ready to Turn the Page on a new chapter for the service with a programme of both virtual and physical events planned for the rest of the year, fresh new stock and a digital offer accessible to all.”

Libraries week events include online ‘virtual author’ events with Glenda Young who will talk about her latest gritty drama set in the early 1900s 'The Miner's Lass' (October 5); Scottish crime writer Denzil Meyrick (October 6) will discuss his best-selling DCI Daley series, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

And on October 8 Freya Sampson will chat about her novel "The Last Library".

There will also be a ‘chose a poem workshop’ at Morpeth Library on October 7 at 6.15pm. All the events are free.

To find out more, or to register, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/northumberland-libraries-12676562101

And, storyteller and comedy actor Gav Cross will be performing “Twisted Tales for Terrible Children” in Berwick, Cramlington and Ashington libraries from October 4 to 6.

All performances will adhere to the latest government Covid-19 guidelines.

To find out more about Libraries Week go to http://librariesweek.org.uk/