West Berkshire Libraries have for many years been evolving its digital resources. During the current Covid-19 pandemic the service has seen large increases in online usage as people turn to reading, learning and researching to make good use of their time at home.

Despite the libraries being closed since 21 March 2020, to minimise risks to customers, staff and volunteers, the overall levels of items borrowed has gone up by 6.8% in the 12 month period from April 2019 to March 2020. This is largely due to loans of almost 90,000 e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines and e-newspapers, which has increased by a staggering 127.39%. The Library service offers its members access to free resources from BorrowBox, OverDrive, RBdigital and PressReader, which was launched in May 2019.

Cllr Rick Jones, Executive Member for Public Health and Community Wellbeing, at West Berkshire Council said: “Last year the e-library service was our third most used library, after Newbury and Thatcham libraries, and it has moved up to second place with only Newbury Library issuing more items. The council is committed to maintaining an excellent library service for all and, while the pandemic continues, we encourage you to make full use of the e-library service.”

The library service continues to find new ways to engage with people of all ages with digital story time and a new Facebook book group called ‘West Berks Read’. For more details about this and future library activities, follow WBerksLibraries on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Customers who are not already a member of the library, can join online giving you free, instant access to the e-library. For details visit www.westberks.gov.uk/libraries.

If you are already a member and have forgotten your library PIN this can also be reset on the library catalogue online: www.westberks.gov.uk/libcat.  During the temporary closures customers are being reassured that no fines will be charged and that they can enjoy their library loans until the buildings reopen.