Lincolnshire libraries under lockdown enjoy soaring demand for their online resources and tutorials

Lockdown has made media stars of Lincolnshire librarians and is creating increasing new audiences for online activities through the service’s website.

Online craft sessions from the garden of library manager Karen Waring. EMN-200505-153546001

With all Lincolnshire’s physical libraries shut since the end of March by Government order, libraries and leisure operator GLL (the social enterprise that operates under the brand ‘Better’) has moved much of its services online, providing support and relief for families enduring six weeks in lockdown.

A major success is the number of people now tuning into Facebook and twitter for activities which are normally provided in Lincolnshire’s library buildings. Engagement has grown by 100 per cent.

Librarians have shown their creative sides, taking Producer/Director/Actor credits when turning their gardens, kitchens and living rooms into ad hoc broadcasting studios for story times, rhyme and sign, and craft sessions for children. Receiving an average of 865 viewsper video, the staff are gaining a loyal fan base among viewers who are getting familiar with their Lincolnshire librarians on screen.

For adults and families there are craft sessions, brain booster quizzes, family history help and even an online ‘Library Doctor’ to make personal e-book recommendations at Spalding Library.

Since lockdown, Better librarians in Lincolnshire have made 31 facebook videos which have been viewed an astounding 26,810 times.

In addition, ‘E-issues’ of reading material are up by 185 per cent compared to last April: ebooks up 223%; emagazines/newspapers up 180%; eaudio increase of 45% and emusic +up 301%.

Lincolnshire Libraries have 1,321 followers on Facebook and 699 followers on twitter.

The full online programme is at facebook.com/lincslibraries/

Diana Edmonds, Head of Libraries at Better said: “Of course it’s sad that our physical libraries are shut; we miss offering that all-important friendly social setting for people to meet and providing services face-to-face for our lovely Lincolnshire library users. But their safety is our priority at this time – and we know the safe option is to stay at home.

“Harnessing the power of social media means enabling people to attend their favourite library activities at home, at a time which suits them - and of course videos can be watched again and again.

“Online content enables us to reach many more people per video – averaging over 800 - than we ever could in a traditional programmed library setting – around 10-50.”

She said: “We know that not everyone has the opportunity to access our online content at home, so we are really looking forward to the day we can welcome all our library users through our doors In Lincolnshire again.”

County Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “Libraries are about so much more than books these days. Over recent years the service has continued to evolve and group activities are now a big part of what we do. These are even more important at this difficult time, when it’s easy for people to feel isolated.

“I’m delighted that staff have come up with such innovative ways of keeping our communities connected during the lockdown. I’d like to thank customers for their ongoing patience and understanding, and we look forward to welcoming them back into the libraries once it is safe to do so.”

Lincolnshire Library online customers can choose from audio books, E-books, E-newspapers and E-magazines - all for free - spanning everything from popular fiction for adults, children and teens alike to non-fiction including cookery, gardening and technology publications. Also on offer are free music downloads and streams from a choice of over 15 million songs and playlists ranging from opera and classical music to jazz, rock and pop.

For the full online programme, Better has put together an online offer - ‘Better at Home’ - that covers a range of free health and wellbeing activities, including craft clubs and virtual exercise classes at www.better.org.uk/exercise-at-home . For families looking for activities to enjoy together at home, see:

https://www.better.org.uk/lp/fun-activities-for-kids-at-home