Libraries open in pubs, shops and village halls

14 Mar 2011 02:10 PM

Scores of pop-up libraries are opening in shops, pubs, post offices and community centres across the country.

Introducing book borrowing points in popular buildings, offering e-book readers and audio downloads, and sharing mobile libraries are among a raft of new ideas and services being implemented by councils  to ensure libraries can thrive in the 21st century.

Other local authorities are putting existing libraries at the heart of their communities by opening up council customer service points and using them as a venue for police surgeries, health centres and volunteer groups.

Through The Future Libraries Programme, the Local Government Association, along with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, is supporting 36 councils in transforming the way library services are provided, to make them more efficient and up-to-date.

Following a tough financial settlement many councils are joining forces with neighbouring authorities to make stretched resources go further, while expanding the range of services offered by libraries.

Cllr Chris White, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:

“By breaking down the barriers of tradition, councils are bringing libraries into the 21st century and meeting the needs of a new generation of library users.

“The best libraries are showing they can provide a wide range of services, whether it be assisting people seeking a job, or applying to be a volunteer for the 2012 Olympics, or a home for reading clubs and homework groups.

“The definition of a library does not have to be confined to a municipal building full of books. Councils are now exploring innovative new ways of providing a library service.

“Opening up libraries in shops, sports centres, village halls and even down at the local pub means that far more people can benefit from the library service councils provide.

“Local authorities know how much libraries mean to those who use them which is why councillors, town hall staff and librarians are working so hard to ensure they can continue to thrive for years to come.”

The online lending of digital novels, which can be read on e-readers, computers, tablets and mobile phones, are among new services being introduced to bring library services up to date with technology.

The increasing popularity of e-book readers and tablets has led to libraries expanding the range of digital services they provide.

Cllr Chris White added: “The revolution in digital reading has presented a huge opportunity for library services to broaden their appeal and improve at doing what they do best.

“The service libraries offer no longer has to be confined to four walls and the number of paperbacks they can fit on the shelves.

“The advent of digital novels means the access to books libraries provide can reach even more people, including those in remote areas who are less mobile. E-books can easily be customised to ensure that those with struggling eyesight can read them.”

Examples of new approaches being taken by councils across the country include:

  • A library has opened up in village pub in Hudson, North Yorkshire as part of North Yorkshire County Council’s mini-libraries scheme.
  • Bradford District Council is looking at starting up a library service in a shop in a move which would extend traditional library opening hours.
  • Cornwall Council is bringing council customer service points and the local registration service into existing libraries so that people can access council services and register births marriages and deaths there.
  • Health advice centres are to be run in libraries as part of a joint scheme between Telford and Wrekin Council and NHS Telford and Wrekin.
  • A trial of e-book readers is to be piloted by Northumberland and Durham county councils. The digital book readers will be made available to people living in rural and remote areas who may otherwise not easily be able to get to a library. The two councils are also launching reading hubs in village halls where books will be delivered for reading groups to swap and share.
  • Libraries in Stockton are offering audiobooks for people to download onto MP3 players as part of the library services’ digital offer which also includes the lending of e-books.
  • Staffordshire County Council is making e-books available to all library members. The download ‘expires’ after the loan period ends and, like traditional books, they can only be borrowed by one library user at a time.
  • Seven London boroughs – Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark – are looking at sharing a library management system, with three of the boroughs exploring the possibility of merging their mobile library services.

Author: LGA Media Office 
Contact: LGA Media Team, Tel: 020 7664 3333

NOTES TO EDITORS

1 The top three adult non-fiction e-books borrowed from UK libraries last month were:

  •  The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry;
  •  Life and Laughing by Michael McIntyre
  •  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The top three adult fiction e-books were:

  •  A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
  • The Help by Kathyn Stockett
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel


Figures according to ebook and library service provider OverDrive: http://search.overdrive.com/Most-Downloaded-Audiobooks-eBooks-Library.aspx?Country=GB