Whether it’s sparking a lifelong love of reading, keeping connected or joining in online activities, Fife libraries are celebrating the important role they played in local lives during lockdown this Libraries Week (4-10 October).

Fittingly, the theme of 2021’s Libraries Week is ‘the central role that libraries play in their community as a driver for inclusion, sustainability, social mobility and community cohesion.’ This follows a 2020 Carnegie Trust survey which found 64% of people said that the library had helped them develop an interest or hobby over lockdown, which is reflected in Fife.

OnFife Libraries met the challenges of the pandemic head on, moving our WalkON wellbeing walks, reading group sessions, and BookBug plus other children’s activities online. As restrictions have lifted, activities are being slowly reintroduced, allowing libraries to play an important role building links within communities.

We knew many readers were missing getting fresh supplies of reading material throughout the pandemic and helped ease that difficulty by increasing the range of e-books, and e-audio books available to borrow from the comfort of home.There are even e-magazines which can be downloaded for free.

Before library doors were fully reopened, a Connect and Collect service was also introduced helping readers of all ages to get access to traditional physical books. Readers can still make use of this service by simply letting us know what their favourite types of books to read, if they prefer standard, large print or talking books and library staff will put together a ‘lucky dip’ of 10 titles that can be picked up from your local library in a Covid-safe environment.

Our home delivery or mobile library team also dropped off new collections of books for those who could not visit us in person. Staff kept in touch with their readers throughout the pandemic with phone calls until they were able to restart deliveries, offering a friendly, familiar voice, too.

Yvonne Melville, Service Development Team Leader, Libraries (Adult) at OnFife, said, “Libraries are there for you throughout your life, especially when you need them most. If you have never visited us before, we invite you to start a new chapter with us this Libraries Week and find out the wide range of services we offer. Perhaps you’re a frequent user of libraries but don’t realise the extent of what is available to you as part of your library membership.  Either way, we hope to play an important part in your story for years to come.”