THE town’s library operators LiveWire have received a £1,000 grant from Arts Council England to help further develop e-books and e-audio services – which are helping to keep adults and children reading during the current lockdown.
The community interest company, which manages the libraries service on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, has been awarded the money as part of nationwide funding by the Arts Council England (ACE) totalling over £150,000 in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
LiveWire’s libraries have been closed since March 20 following the Government guidance to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
However LiveWire is operating a wide digital offering – including e-books, e-audio books and e-comics– as well as the research and homework tool Credo, and Theory Test Pro tool, for practising the driving theory test.
Since the closure of library sites LiveWire have seen a 194% increase in e book borrowing figures with the online offer attracting 246 new members to the service.
The ACE funding will be spent on expanding this offer, including popular titles, children’s materials, both recreational and educational, titles to support hobbies and crafts and to help with health and well-being issues.
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire said: “This investment from DCMS is greatly welcomed. Since closing our doors we have seen an increase in demand for our e-books and e-audio services, we know the benefits that reading for pleasure have on an individual’s wellbeing, therefore this money will really help to expand our current digital offer to support the residents of Warrington to continue to enjoy reading a book during these times.”
Cllr Tony Higgins, Executive Member for Leisure and Communities, said: “Libraries are and will always be at the heart of our communities. During these difficult times, it’s important that we are able to still access our most cherished facilities – albeit in different ways – so I’m pleased that we’re able to expand our stock of online library resources. It’s well documented that the arts and literature can boost mental wellbeing which, during these challenging times, is more important than ever.”
Sue Williamson, ACE director of libraries, said: “Libraries have always been cherished spaces sitting at the heart of community life, where anyone can pick up a book, learn, enjoy and connect with others. Closing their doors has meant that many people are missing out on this important service, but we have seen more people using their digital services, as well as a huge increase in demand for e-books and e-audio. This injection of money will help every public library in England respond to that demand for digital content, and in doing so, they will continue to provide an invaluable service to their communities during these challenging times.”
For more information in how to join LiveWire libraries during the closure period, the e-book offer, visit https://livewirewarrington.co.uk/news/2353-how-to-join-libraries-online-during-the-closure-period