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With physical libraries shut since the end of March by Government order, libraries and leisure operator GLL (the social enterprise that operates under the Better brand) has moved much of its services online, providing support and relief for families enduring 6 weeks in lockdown.

A major success is the number of people now tuning in for library activities on Facebook and Twitter, which are normally provided in library buildings. In some cases, audiences have grown by 2,000%.

Better’s 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 up to 5,200 views per video, individuals are gaining a loyal fan base amongst viewers who are getting familiar with their local librarians on screen.

For adults, there are more craft sessions, alongside virtual walks, poetry readings and even a podcast.

Since lockdown, Better librarians in Bromley, Dudley, Greenwich, Lincolnshire and Wandsworth have produced a total of 282 videos – and these have now been viewed a total over 151,163 times.

Diana Edmonds MBE, Head of Libraries at Better said:

“Of course it’s sad that our physical libraries are shut and we miss providing services face to face with our lovely library users and providing that all-important friendly social setting for people to meet.

“But we’ve adapted quickly to the unprecedented national emergency and to the demands of the 21st Century Library user to produce ‘libraries without walls’ during lockdown.

“Harnessing the power of social media means enabling people to attend their favourite library activities at a time which suits them – and not just content from their local library because we run 113 across the country.

”And of course videos can be watched again and again. Online content enables us to reach many more people per video – averaging 500 - than we ever could in a traditional programmed library setting – around 10-50.”

“Producing more content online – in addition to Better’s physical library offer - could be a model for the future and is being actively explored.”

Online library users are not restricted to their local library but can pick and choose content from libraries near and far – and indeed can select from a rhyme time or a poetry reading from any library service in the country.

Customers can choose from audio books, E-books 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.

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 https://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

 

GLL Online Library Visits: Videos

Partnership

Videos added since lockdown

Total Views

Greenwich

96

46443

Bromley

49

40314

Wandsworth

85

29873

Lincolnshire

31

26810

Dudley

21

7723

Total

282

151163

 

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