Big increase in digital library downloads in Warwickshire as there is a national surge in eBook loans

Warwickshire County Council’s virtual library service has gone from strength to strength, with thousands of eBooks, eNewspapers and eMagazines loaned and downloaded by people staying at home.

Thanks to easy-to-use digital services like BorowBox and online assistance from Warwickshire’s virtual library staff, residents are still enjoying reading digital books, audiobooks and publications.

Downloads of eBooks and eAudioBooks from BorrowBox, which enables Warwickshire residents to access library items for free whenever and wherever they are, totalled almost 16,000 in April (compared to just over 11,000 in March), with overall downloads since lockdown began on 23rd March reaching almost 20,000.

It means the number of eBook downloads increased by around 80% compared to the previous five weeks – perhaps proving that there’s nothing quite like a good book to help lift your spirits or provide a bit of escapism.

The increase in Warwickshire is part of a national surge in eBook library loans, with Libraries Connected revealing an increase in people accessing digital titles across library services in England.

Councillor Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation, said: “Before this present crisis began, Warwickshire’s library service was already working hard to develop and enlarge our virtual offer.

“Lockdown has fast-tracked the development of digital services for libraries in Warwickshire and across the country, and the current situation has emphasised the importance of us offering online access to library services.”

Described as “your library in one app”, BorrowBox are continuously extending their range of exclusive authors and titles, which can be accessed using most digital devices, including the iPad and Kindle Fire.

Warwickshire County Council’s virtual libraries team have released a ‘Top 10’ video revealing the most popular loaned eBooks and eAudioBooks titles of 2020 so far.

You can watch the video on the Warwickshire County Council YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCPPiZt2ANA

The Top 10 are:

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre (eAudioBook)

2. Memory Man by David Baldacci (eBook)

3. Gallows View by Peter Robinson (eAudioBook)

4. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult (eAudioBook)

5. The Lake House by Kate Morton (eBook)

6. Circe by Madeline Miller (eAudioBook)

7. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophia Kinsella (eAudioBook)

8. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (eAudioBook)

9. The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth (eBook)

10. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory (eAudioBook)

The downloading of eMagazines and eNewspapers, available for free through the PressReader and RB Digital services, has also proved to be very popular.

Over 41,000 issues of eNewspapers were read in Warwickshire in April (compared to just over 32,000 in March) and over 7,600 eMagazines have been downloaded since the start of lockdown – a 20% increase.

The digital services enable you to read a wide variety of worldwide publications on your device, whether that is your mobile phone, tablet or computer, through their websites and apps.

All you need to access these for free are your library card number and email address.

If you’re not already a member you can join online, visit https://library.warwickshire.gov.uk/ and click ‘Join Online’. Warwickshire Libraries will send you your membership number and then you can get started straight away!

Hundreds of new Warwickshire library users have joined in recent weeks to take advantage of the digital services, with almost 1,500 new users signing up since lockdown began – a 120% increase on the previous five weeks.

According to Libraries Connected, 120,000 new members joined libraries across England in the first three weeks of lockdown alone – proving that it is not just existing library users moving across to digital.

Councillor Kaur concluded: “I’m delighted that our library memberships and eBook, eAudioBook and digital publication loans and downloads have climbed in recent weeks.

“One of the important insights from the interruption triggered by Covid-19 is that both physical and digital are equally effective ways of connecting with library services.

“When our library buildings re-open, we want to make sure that we hold on to the new members that have joined Warwickshire libraries through e-lending.”

Library digital support calls have been made to over 60 residents to help them log on to Borrowbox and resolve any technical issues they have been having.

For help with all library services, you can contact the virtual library enquiry service by emailing libraryenquiryteam@warwickshire.gov.uk.