‘I always thought art was not for people like me, how wrong I was.’
Library art club member
Libraries are often the first place people experience art and culture. Whether it is a crafts session with an emerging artist or a live music concert in a city centre library – libraries know how to create a quality and diverse cultural experience.
Lockdown has driven many of these activities online with a range of rhyme times, story times, reading groups and book podcasts. And it isn’t just existing library members that are converting to digital. We estimate that 120,000 new members joined in the three weeks after libraries closed their buildings, while loans across audio and ebooks have tripled.
Kingston-upon-Thames Libraries was one of the pioneers in expanding their services online with 10,000 views of its Facebook Story time in the first week of lockdown. Kirklees called all their borrowers over 70, around 17,000 people, to offer support.
Library services are opening again with enthusiasm. Reopening libraries with social distancing measures in place is going smoothly, with libraries placing a strong emphasis on safety of both staff and users. As more measures are relaxed, libraries will begin to move back to running events.
York Explore opened their four largest libraries on 7 July and in the first week, their PCs have been fully booked and they’ve had over 1,400 select and collect requests.