'Just fabulous' 800 per cent rise in demand for Hartlepool's online library services during pandemic
Council chiefs have seen an “800% increase” in memberships to their online library services during the pandemic.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers have seen a huge increase in the number of e-books being loaned through its Borrow Box online service.
Gemma Ptak, assistant director for preventative and community based services, told the authority’s adult and community based services meeting: “We’ve obviously seen a reduction in book loans, but we started to see that decline before we went into the pandemic, and we’ve seen approximately an 800% increase of our online memberships and use of Borrow Box which is just fabulous.
“We know with our digital inclusion work we’ve been able to give people access to digital books, e-books, audio books, as they wanted them, as well as still getting physical books to people through our home and mobile libraries.”
Cllr Carl Richardson said it was a positive to see more people accessing e-books during the pandemic.
But he added: “I don’t want to see, and I will fight against library closures, and that’s what I’m concerned about in the future.”
Ms Ptak replied: “Our intention isn’t to reduce the physical books that people will want to continue to access, that will remain a priority for us.
“However what we want to do is ensure that we understand what people’s needs are going to be coming out of the pandemic
“What we are starting to hear is perhaps we do need to move towards a much more blended model of operations for library services and what we want to try and do is understand what that needs to be.”