Manchester maintains vital library services during lockdown

Central Library
Cllr Luthfur Rahman OBE

Manchester maintains vital library services during lockdown Libraries in Manchester are continuing to provide vital access to books, the internet and online family activities, despite the country going into a second lockdown.

13 of the city’s libraries remain open in a limited, Covid-safe way, to provide essential internet access and book drop-offs and collection services for the community, while regular family events and activities are being provided online.

The libraries which remain open for customers are City Library (at Central Library), Abraham Moss, Avenue, Beswick, Brooklands, Chorlton, Didsbury, Gorton, Longsight, Newton Heath, North City, Withington and Wythenshawe Forum. All other libraries – including Central Library – will be closed until further notice.

Library members can reserve books online for collection in person, or can call their nearest open library to talk to staff about the type of books they enjoy and get recommendations to collect. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent, carer or older sibling. The council’s Books To Go service for housebound residents is also continuing to deliver to its existing customers.

Weekly children’s storytimes (Tuesdays, 11am), book reviews (Wednesdays, noon), quizzes (Fridays, noon) are being hosted on the Manchester Libraries Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/manchesterlibraries), along with the regular STEM club for children (Saturdays, 11am) and Lego Challenge (Saturdays, 2pm).

24/7 free access to thousands of e-books, magazines and audiobooks, plus all UK daily newspapers, is also available via www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries. The digital library service enables free downloads of a wide selection of e-books and audiobooks, via Borrowbox. A list including some of the latest bestsellers, plus many much-loved literary classics, is available to choose from.

Members can also access PressReader online. The website offers more than 5,000 newspaper and magazine titles from more than 100 countries, in over 60 languages – all for free – in its original or screen-friendly format.

Members can also read full digital copies of magazines for free from their digital device, via the RB Digital service. Around 100 magazines are currently available, covering everything from food to computers and music to art. Members can borrow an unlimited number of magazines, to keep for as long as they need.

Business support via the Central Library’s Business & Intellectual Property Centre has continued throughout the pandemic, with training courses, webinars, clinics and 1-1 support for start-ups and businesses all provided online. The BIPC’s popular clinics for businesses, including in the fields of Intellectual Property, law and the music industry, have continued as telephone consultations. To learn more about the support available for businesses, go to askaboutbusiness.org.

If you are not already a member, join the library online via www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries, to sign up start using all these resources straight away.

Help is also available for people who need to learn how to use the internet, or to video call friends and family. Send a text 07860 064 128 to receive a call back from an experienced volunteer.

Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, said: “Our team have worked hard to provide vital access to library services throughout the pandemic, providing online alternatives to many of the services that usually make our libraries bustling hives of activity.

“Our online reading offer of resources such as e-books has been incredibly popular since March, with these services now being used more than ever.

“We know this is a difficult time for local businesses, which why we’ve developed a dedicated programme to support SMEs, all of which can be accessed remotely. And we knew that digital support for vulnerable residents would be vital, so our offer includes one-to-one telephone support for those who need it.

“Our talented staff have shown their passion and creativity to come up with new ways of connecting with our communities despite the essential restrictions, staying in touch with library members and providing help, assistance and entertainment during these unprecedented times.”