A collection service that enabled County Durham residents to access library books during the initial coronavirus lockdown was reintroduced this week.
Durham County Council introduced its ‘pick and collect’ service in July to enable people to borrow books for the first time since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March.
Between July and September, more than 15,000 titles were borrowed through the scheme, providing much-needed entertainment and escapism to people of all ages.
With a second national lockdown now in place until Wednesday December 2, the council has brought back the service.
It follows the closure of all of the council’s libraries last week in line with Government requirements.
Collection points will be reintroduced at 12 libraries including Newton Aycliffe’s – as well as at Barnard Castle, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Crook, Peterlee, Seaham, Shildon, Spennymoor, Stanley, Bishop Auckland Town Hall Library, and Clayport Library in Durham.
All other libraries will remain closed during the lockdown period, but anyone can use the pick and collect service, regardless of where in the county they live or which library they normally visit.
Members of the public can order up to six books either online or over the phone.
They will then be contacted by library staff, using their registered phone number, to arrange a collection day when they can pick up their chosen titles from a participating library.
Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Our pick and collect service operated from July until mid-September when we reintroduced in-library browsing and PC use.
“It was a great success, providing an easy way for people to access books while also protecting the safety of both staff and customers.
“We understand the important role books play in lifting people’s spirits and by reintroducing our pick and collect service, we hope our libraries can continue to provide comfort and entertainment to residents during this difficult time.”
The libraries where the service is being reintroduced have been chosen as they are located in town centres and in larger buildings where there is space to queue.
The chosen sites also offer a good geographical spread of locations around the county.
Times when collections can be made may differ at each library and will not be in line with their former opening hours. Customers will be advised of this when making their booking.
None of these libraries will be open for browsing and all other library services, including access to public computers, will remain suspended for the time being.
County Durham library users can continue to access online services, however, with an extended digital offer including more eBooks, eMagazines and eAudiobook titles and free access to research tool Ancestry.
These services will continue alongside a temporary Doorstep Book Delivery service, which was introduced during the March lockdown period to provide reading material for isolated and vulnerable Books on Wheels library members.
Anyone can become a library member by visiting Library Online at www.durham.gov.uk/libraryonline or calling one of the participating libraries.
For more information about County Durham libraries and the pick and collect service, including contact details for participating libraries, visit www.durham.gov.uk/pickandcollect.
Residents can also follow the library service’s Facebook or Twitter accounts at https://twitter.com/DurhamLibraries and https://www.facebook.com/CountyDurhamLibraries/.