Libraries have always been synonymous with reading – even if the printed word no longer totally dominates in the digital era of the 21st Century.

However, the community library in Pateley Bridge has developed a new niche market among its customers – who have found that a picture can paint more than a thousand words, or at least keep them entertained for longer.

The library operates like all North Yorkshire’s community branches, with volunteers providing the staff while the County Council takes care of the stock – but as a side line, a jigsaw lending service has emerged and has proved to be a pandemic hit.

While the stock of books is carefully managed through the council, the jigsaw service has grown from public donations and is administered by the volunteers who help to run the service.

There is no charge to borrow the puzzles and they have proved increasingly popular through the pandemic – perhaps as an alternative to television and reading for those on lockdown or shielding.

Pateley Bridge library

The library’s stock has grown almost five fold, to around 180 since the pandemic started, and they are frequently on the list of items to be taken out to users by the library’s home delivery service.

Helen Flynn, of Nidderdale Plus, which oversees volunteers operating the service, said: “We have at least 50 out at any one time and that is going up all the time, it has been a really good thing, expanding the service.

“Doing a jigsaw is a pleasant activity and it keeps people’s minds active,” she said.

The service has benefitted from the fact that many people who buy jigsaws are happy to pass them on for others to enjoy when they have completed them.