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Community / Electronic books prove popular during library shutdown

The current library. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

DOWNLOADS of electronic books through Shetland Library have greatly increased since its building was closed to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the library in Lerwick shut its doors on 17 March there has been a 114 per cent increase in ebook usage compared to the three weeks before it closed.

The number has increased from 154 ebook downloads to 329 since the library closed.

The number of audiobook downloads has also risen from 271 to 445 – a 64 per cent increase.

The library has added 210 new ebook and audiobooks since the shutdown and it has also invested in Pressreader, a digital newspaper service which went live last week.

Library services manager Karen Fraser said: “I am so glad we can offer new and expanded e-services at this time, as unfortunately we’ve had to discontinue all our face-to-face work, and we know how much people miss the library.

“Staff are really keen to hear from people who need help accessing our online services – we will do all we can by phone, email, Zoom – whatever it takes.

“We are also creating some of our own online story times to showcase local writing, and we are really grateful to authors and publishers who have given us copyright permission.”

The library uses the digital platform RBdigital for ebooks, which includes audiobooks, magazines, comics and newspapers.

Shetland Library has seen 131 new sign-ups to the platform since the building closed.

You have to be a member of Shetland Library to register with RBdigital for free, but staff have been able to join up non-members if they mail them their details.

The library and its vans closed off to the public in mid-March – as did a host of other buildings – as part of measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19.