Coronavirus: NI Libraries see 24,000 new online users during pandemic

Coronavirus: NI Libraries see 24,000 new online users during pandemic

Almost 24,000 people in Northern Ireland have joined the library since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown and restrictions have meant most new members since the start of March have used the Libraries NI website to sign up.

Libraries NI saw its online membership rise by 23,569 between March and the end of September.

In March, there were 7,590 new library members – 10 times as many as the same month in 2019.

Prior to the pandemic, most people signing up to use library services would have done so in a library building.

However, during lockdown Libraries NI encouraged people to use their website to become a member.

People flocked to the library’s digital offering of e-books and audiobooks – with more than a million downloads since the start of March.

Many of those were for children and young people.

Of the 30 most popular digital books, about half of them are now junior books. In 2019 this figure was just two.

Jim O’Hagan, chief executive of Libraries NI, said the increase in membership was “fantastic”.

“In a strange way the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been very challenging for Libraries NI, as indeed it has been for many businesses and organisations,” he said.

“But we were fortunate in that we already had in place an established suite of online programmes and resources, and we were able to use them to continue providing library services to the public throughout.

“It’s really from that we have seen this fantastic increase in our numbers of members.”

The BBC’s Book Week NI, in conjunction with Libraries NI, runs from Monday 19 October to Sunday 26 October.

You can find out more here.

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