Oldham Libraries ‘book up’ residents’ spirits

In spite of these uncertain times, Oldham Libraries have been working tirelessly to ensure residents have been kept entertained and engaged.

When the country went into lockdown back in March our libraries team showed just how innovative and flexible they could be by finding new ways to continue to provide a great service to people of all ages.

Oldham Library

Although events as we knew them have changed dramatically since March, our staff have continually worked alongside cultural partners, local artists and creative practitioners to help create some degree of normality.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Culture, said: “I am so proud of our library staff for their sterling efforts in keeping our residents, especially some of our most isolated and vulnerable, connected and entertained during the initial lockdown period.

“Despite these very uncertain times, our staff are extremely resourceful and have managed to continue providing a great service over these last few months.

“We are very fortunate in Oldham to have such an outstanding service with dedicated staff.”

Despite restrictions our team continued to provide a range of services, including weekly Rhymetime events, swapping the Children’s Library for Facebook Live; virtual author interviews and live performances online.

Between 23 March – 16 August, the libraries’ staff produced 30 videos, which generated more than 10,000 views and organised 37 live events, attracting a further 3,671 viewers.

Oldham library online rhyme time

For those wanting to fill their time with reading, Oldham Libraries invested in their e-offer. This resulted in almost 35,000 e-books and e-audio books being downloaded during from March to August– an increase of 300% compared to the same time last year.

Avid readers who preferred to turn the page of a physical book were also catered for as Oldham Libraries teamed up with Age UK to increase their Home Library Service. This involved delivering over 250 books and reaching out to 60 new users of this brilliant service.

In order to ensure no one was left out, they also supported the delivery of an additional 300 books, creative and sports care packages in partnership with Oldham Community Leisure, Housing Associations, schools and community groups to reach families, young people and individuals most in need.

To assist residents who are considered digitally excluded, they submitted a bid to the Good Things Foundation and received ten digital tablets to distribute to those who needed them most.

As well this, to support those who were finding the move over to digital difficult they offered weekly support sessions to help with basic digital skills.

Furthermore, adding more strings to their bows, some library staff members were redeployed to Registrars, Community Hub Response Teams, PPE Hub distribution, Track and Trace and Helpline services.

Even the Community Libraries have played their part and have been a base for the Covid engagement teams, which several library staff are also supporting.

Cllr Brownridge added: “Even as we deal with further restrictions Oldham Libraries continue to provide a great service to the people of the borough.”

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