Around 1,200 people benefit from the service, which sees volunteers deliver books to people who are unable to visit their nearest library, either on a temporary or permanent basis.
80-year-old May Reeve, a self-confessed “bookworm”, lives up a single-track road in Wykeham, near Scarborough. May doesn’t drive and it takes her an hour to walk to the nearest bus stop.
After speaking to staff at Derwent Valley BRIDGE community library, she signed up for the home library service over two years ago and it has served her throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“I can’t praise the volunteers enough,” said May. “They are so helpful for delivering the books and it’s nice to have somebody to chat to.”
92-year-old Joan Dean has always loved reading and reminisces about visiting her local library with her father as a child. Over the last decade Joan has struggled with her health and has been unable to travel to her local library.
Joan was told about the home library service by a friend and has been receiving a range of books on a fortnightly basis. She said: “I’ve got to know the volunteers who deliver the books and I look forward to them visiting – they are great company.
“I give them a list of titles to choose, and over the bank holidays they bring twice as many books to keep me going. Getting a delivery is a highlight of my week.”
Volunteers contact users about their reading interests before arranging a regular delivery, normally once a fortnight. They can also request certain books, authors, and different formats such as large print or audio books.
The service operates in both urban and rural areas, with both County Council-run and community-managed libraries involved. In towns, the services are centralised for convenience but in rural communities they operate from local branches, with regular drop-offs and collections.
County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “The importance of our home library service has been enhanced during the pandemic as it proves a lifeline for vulnerable residents. Many people find reading a form of escapism from real-life troubles and just chatting to the volunteers who deliver the books helps to tackle the isolation even the most tight-knit communities are feeling.
“We are grateful to the army of volunteers who make this service possible; the positive feedback is a testament to the brilliant work they do. We will continue to operate the delivery service for anybody who needs it.”
Anybody can access free resources including e-books, e-audio books, newspapers and magazines by visiting www.northyorks.gov.uk/digital-library
To find out more about receiving the service or becoming a volunteer either contact your local library, call 01609 533800 or email [email protected]