Hampshire County Council is reporting an unprecedented rise in digital library use, as people who live, work and study in Hampshire are turning to the library service for access to books during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “Even though we’ve had to close library buildings due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the library service continues to provide resources to Hampshire’s residents online and is experiencing a massive surge in new digital users; a 770% increase in people joining our digital service, putting Hampshire’s digital library among the largest and fastest-growing in the country.
“Our digital library service, which includes thousands of books, audio-books, popular magazines and newspapers, and even some more specialist resources, has been steadily gaining popularity for a long time; and now, with many spending more time indoors, we’re seeing an incredible boom as people begin to make the most of it. The latest figures show that 2,000 more titles were borrowed digitally than the previous two weeks.
“We have responded rapidly to increasing demand for our existing online resources so that people can access even more content through their mobile phone, tablet and computer for work, study or entertainment. I hope that many will continue to use this excellent service long after the Coronavirus outbreak is behind us.”
Hampshire Library Service has been gradually building its online offering over the last few years and use of the digital service has steadily grown. Between November 2018 and November 2019, Borrowbox – the app offering thousands of free audio-book and ebook titles for children and adults – saw a rise from 4,668 registered users to 22,912.
For the seven days commencing 17 March 2020, there were 200 new Borrowbox users compared to 23 in the previous week, resulting in a 770% increase.