Online memberships to libraries have experienced an increase of up to 770 per cent in parts of the UK, as people look for ways to entertain themselves during the government lockdown.
The public is under strict instructions to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus, and the Local Government Association has said that people are turning more and more to digital library services.
Hampshire County Council has seen a 770 per cent increase in new digital users, while Cornwall Council has had a 630 per cent boost and Hertfordshire County Council an increase of 332 per cent.
The percentages were calculated by comparing borrowing activity on 11 March (before the lockdown began) to use the following week.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chairman of the LGA’s culture, tourism and sport board, said: “The number of people registering to use digital library services across some parts of the country has rocketed.”
He continued: “Council libraries provide a vital service for residents and act as community hubs in normal times.
“Their online digital contribution has now become equally important as people turn to them as a way to help pass the time at home.”
Emma Marigliano, chairwoman of the Independent Libraries Association, said: “Our libraries have certainly been working all out to continue to interact with their members and their many other users.
“And if public libraries have seen such a surge in activity during these rather strange times then I’d say this is definitive proof that a) books and reading are still lifelines for so many, and b) of claims that libraries work just as well as centres for community cohesion – which they absolutely do.”
Additional reporting by Press Association