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Community / Plenty more room for books on the horizon as library move nears

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

THE ‘NEW’ library in Lerwick will have room for twice as many books than the current building, while the area for children is set to triple in size.

Shetland Library is due to move back into the building at Hillhead – its former home – once renovation work is completed in the coming months.

The process will involve moving 77,000 books across the road from the current library in the former St Ringan’s church, as well as the shelving, computers and furniture.

In the library’s recently published performance report for 2020/21, staff said its opening hours will increase once in the building.

After the move to the new building, St Ringan’s will become the new chamber for council meetings.

St Ringan’s has hosted library services since 2002.

The library's current base at St Ringans Church (left) is a stone's throw away from the old premises at Lower Hillhead. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News
An image from 2017 showing the current library on the left and the former building on the right. The old one is currently undergoing renovation ahead of lending services moving back in. Photo: Shetland News

Some library work has continued to be carried out in parts of the old building due to space issues, but the upcoming move is designed to bring together services under one roof.

“Our plans for how we use the building are flexible to fit an uncertain world,” staff said in the performance report.

“We will also bring back Bookbug and increase mobile and community library services.”

The year 2020/21, meanwhile, was naturally a strange one for the library as the pandemic took hold.

While the building was closed to the public for periods of the year, staff kept busy with nearly 3,000 home deliveries and more than 2,500 contactless collections from the library.

During 2020/21 14,000 books were renewed over lockdown, with books having a 72 hour quarantine period.

Nearly 33,000 customers visits were made to the library, with 25,755 book loans.

The library also continued its strong social media presence through the year, with nearly six million impressions on Twitter in 2020/21.

When it came to lending e-audio books were a big hit, with a 99 per cent increase in borrows, while the popularity of e-books rose by 121 per cent.