Life-saver service brings books to people’s door

For many of us, books are a way to escape into a different world at the end of the day – and a fantastic way to do this is by borrowing from libraries.

But for those who can no longer get out and about to choose their own books, a service is on offer that brings the library home.

The Home Library Service is comprised of willing volunteers who choose books from the shelves of the library and deliverers who get them to the reader at home.

Although it was suspended at the start of lockdown, the service has been restarted to provide avid readers across North Yorkshire with the material they need.

We spoke to three people involved with the service in Stokesley.

Pauline Warrington is a picker and is a keen reader herself, so appreciates the time she can spend browsing the shelves for interesting books.

She said: “I started volunteering for the library in Stokesley about eight years ago when I saw a notice appealing for volunteers. At first it was helping elderly people use computers, but the need for that diminished when things like tablets came about.

“So, I said I’d give the home libraries service a go. I’m a really keen reader and I always have been and so I enjoy browsing the shelves to find what people like.”

Pauline receives a set of guidelines on what the borrowers like to read and tries to match her selections to their tastes.

She added: “As a picker, I’m allowed in the library for 45 minutes at a time at the minute, with a mask on.

“I can also pick books and order them at home.

“I’ve had all sorts of different picking systems in the past. For example, one lady prefers paperbacks to hardbacks, the print not too small but not large print either.

“I looked at the kind of books she liked and worked my way through A, B, C etc looking for things she might like to read. By the time I’ve got to the end of the alphabet, there are more new books out.”

Malcolm Wilson then delivers the books to people in the community.

He has been doing the role for ten years, delivering books to people who rely on it.

Pickers like Pauline select the books, and Malcolm picks them up and delivers them, returning two weeks later to collect them.

He said: “I do about 25 miles all together.

“In the old days you’d often find yourselves chatting, now people give you a wave from the window or we have a chat from a distance.

“It’s something I thought I could do and I wanted to try to help other people.

“Some of them I’ve known them perhaps eight years now.

“One of our people is 92 and reads six books a fortnight.

“They rely on me as well and that really came to light during the pandemic – when the service started up again many people who use it were keen to get started.”

And Margaret Seed is on the receiving end, looking forward to her box of expertly-curated books each fortnight.

She said: “I joined the service because I had to stop driving.

“I used to be at the library every Wednesday, it was my weekly treat – when I stopped driving it was the thing that hit me the most.

“But the service is utterly fantastic. I gave in a list of authors I like and they get delivered by Malcolm – it’s wonderful and whoever picks my books does a brilliant job.

“There are some things in there I might not normally pick up and read but I’ve enjoyed them.”

Margaret says she has been a reader all her life.

She added: “I couldn’t do without the service. It’s been a real life saver for me.”

Find out how to join the Home Library Service.

Enjoy the library on the go with our new app

Our library service has launched an app to help customers to access library resources anytime, anywhere.

The app brings together all the online library services, as well as offering library members new facilities.

Using the app, members can view their account, search the library catalogue and reserve and renew books, as well as downloading e-books and e-audio books and accessing free online reference resources.

Other functions include the option to set language preferences and to link library accounts, so customers could link the accounts of other family members, enabling them to manage and renew loans for their children, for example.

To download the app, search for North Yorkshire libraries in the App Store for iOS and in Google Play for Android devices.

Anyone who is not a library member can join online free.