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Warwickshire Libraries are reminding residents that they don’t have to worry about returning books during the latest lockdown, as overdue fines have been waived – and digital library services, ...

Warwickshire Libraries are reminding residents that they don’t have to worry about returning books during the latest lockdown, as overdue fines have been waived – and digital library services, which are proving more popular than ever, are still available!

The library service is asking everyone to follow the guidelines and stay at home to keep everyone safe, extending the return date for all items on loan until at least 27th February 2021. Any overdue fines currently do not apply.

Digital library services are still available 24/7, so you can ‘get online anytime’ with Warwickshire Libraries!

The virtual library service continues to be extremely popular during lockdown. Since April last year, there has been a 530% increase in the number of eBooks downloaded, with almost 90,000 borrowed through Warwickshire’s BorrowBox virtual library app.

There’s also been a 230% increase in the number of eAudiobooks downloaded, with over 74,000 borrowed in the same time period.

Since April, almost 4,500 new members – that’s a 70% increase – have signed up to BorrowBox, which has transformed the way people use their local library services by enabling people to access library items whenever and wherever they are.

BorrowBox allows users to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks for free and is available across most digital devices.

Warwickshire Libraries staff have made a video that explains, step-by-step, how customers can download and use the app: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ch5GK61p-I   

Also proving popular are eNewspapers, with a 120% increase in the number of issues read, and eMagazines, which have seen a 55% increase in downloads.

By the end of February 2021, the popular eMagazine service, currently supplied in Warwickshire by RBDigital, will be powered by a company called Overdrive.

Warwickshire’s digital library customers will not see a lot of difference in the service that they receive, with the same range of popular titles to choose from on a site that is identical in everything but the name.

To get started, users will have to download the Overdrive Libby app from the Apple Store or Google Play but won’t have to register again as RBDigital has now become a part of Overdrive. 

What’s more, users can still download as many titles as they want free of charge, keep them on their device indefinitely and have every issue of their favourite titles emailed to them every month.

Overdrive and the Libby app is only for eMagazines. Warwickshire libraries’ eBook and eAudio service will still be provided by BorrowBox.

For residents that are unable to access digital library services, there are still reduced services available at local libraries across Warwickshire.

Browsing at any library is suspended until further notice, but many libraries are continuing to offer Click & Collect and Staff Select services as well as pre-booked access to computers.

Library customers can order a selection of books to collect from a library of their choice - a bit like the ‘click and collect’ service you can use to buy your shopping.

Customers must pre-order the books they’d like to borrow using Warwickshire’s online library catalogue or the Staff Select service. 

They will be notified by email, phone or post when their request is ready for collection or they can check via their library account. No appointment is required to collect the books.

When visiting a library, customers should wear a mask unless exempt, sanitise their hands, and they will be asked to provide contact information for NHS Test and Trace. Customers should adhere to the national restrictions and stay at home if they have any symptoms of coronavirus.

Quarantining and cleaning measures for returned books are in place.

Councillor Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation, said:

“We understand that our residents may not be able to visit their local library before the return date for the items they currently have on loan, so we have extended the return date for all library items to at least 27th February. Any overdue fines do not currently apply.

“The latest figures about our digital library services show just how much their use has increased in lockdown.

“As well as eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers, customers can also explore eMusic with live streaming from the Naxos Classical Music Library.

“They can also access eInformation and learning sites including online encyclopedias, dictionaries, Driver Theory and Citizenship practice tests, and the Times Digital Archive. We’ve seen a 45% increase in searches of our eInformation resources since April last year.

“Our Warwickshire Libraries website also has home learning and homework help sections, and our staff continue to work hard behind the scenes organising online author events and our Virtual Book Group.

“Last April, our staff set up the Digital Library Help service to provide support with our digital library services by phone or email, and we have answered over 220 email enquiries to date.”

All these services are free to use for Warwickshire Libraries members. Residents who haven’t got a library card can join online at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/jointhelibrary to start accessing these services straightaway.

You can get online anytime with Warwickshire Libraries at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/libraries and explore the new eMagazine service at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ebooks.

   

Published: 21st January 2021