Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a £151,000 investment into library services to buy e-books and digital audio products.
Under the programme, each of the 151 public library services in England will receive £1,000 for immediate and unrestricted use for new digital stock.
ACE said library services had seen a significant rise in membership over the past month, up by 600% compared to this time last year.
The investment would help them increase the breadth and availability of digital products while also benefiting publishers through library purchasing, ACE said.
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.”
Meanwhile, Libraries Connected has pulled together a digital platform showcasing the best of library resources and activity from across the country called Libraries from Home.
Mark Freeman, president of Libraries Connected, said: “Libraries' priority throughout this crisis is to continue to provide a high-quality service to their local communities and to help people to maintain their mental health and wellbeing. They also have a key role to play in supporting children’s learning at home and so we are delighted that Arts Council England have granted this new funding for libraries to increase their stock of audio and e-books to meet the growing demand from people in isolation.”
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