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‘Cruel pandemic’ limits Hampshire’s library service

Book lovers in Hampshire can continue to use libraries during lockdown, but in a limited way.

Because readers can’t browse in branch during lockdown there are now alternative ways to borrow books.

Users can reserve and renew library books online or on their smartphone using an app.

Alternatively, library customers can use the service Ready Reads, where library staff select books based on what the customer likes to read, and the customer collects the books from their chosen library.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, said: “In the interest of everyone’s safety, which remains our top priority, we will not be able to support browsing in any of our branches while the latest national COVID-19 lockdown is in place.

“We encourage customers to instead look through our digital library and borrow and return digital items from the comfort of their own home, if they can.”

Cllr Woodward told WINOL: “We also have a successful Library at Home Service where residents, perhaps more vulnerable and even shielding residents, are able to receive library books of their choice delivered to their home.”

People can join virtual children’s activities such as Online Rhymetime and Online Storytime.

During the lockdown all library cafés will be closed.

Cllr Woodward told WINOL: “The pandemic has been so cruel. So may vulnerable groups would meet in our libraries, and they’d be really important community hubs.

“Our Discovery Centres with cafés and more people coming in to do other things than actually get library books. And that is the sad thing, that we have lost all of that.”

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