New figures reveal rapid rise in digital borrowing in Suffolk’s libraries

eBooks are proving popular in Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK LIBRARIES

eBooks are proving popular in Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK LIBRARIES - Credit: Archant

More than half a million digital items have been borrowed from Suffolk’s libraries in just four years – illustrating a rapid rise in interest in internet borrowing for reading and listening.

Latest figures show nearly 107,000 eBooks were borrowed and 29,000 eAudio books in 2017/18.

Paul Howarth, Suffolk Libraries’ stock and content manager, said: “We’ve seen a huge growth in the popularity of our online library services over the past few years and it’s something we’ve supported by adding new services and expanding the choice available.

“It’s very important that as a library service we continue to innovate and provide a wider choice of services and a range of options for people to access books and information.”

Suffolk Libraries launched its first ground-breaking service to lend eReader devices to customers in 2014 with the first pilot involving lending Nook devices at Thurston Library.

At the time it was thought to be the first service of its kind in the UK with Suffolk Libraries seeking advice from libraries in the US on how best to deliver the scheme.

The aim of the service was to support the growing popularity of eBooks and to give people the chance to test drive devices before they bought one.

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This enabled customers to easily sample the range of eBooks available from Suffolk Libraries and following on from the launch at Thurston Library, Gainsborough and Woodbridge libraries now also lend eReaders to the public.

In 2015, Halesworth Library became the first library to lend iPads to customers. This was also thought to be the first scheme of its kind in the UK and allowed customers to access all eLibrary services.

Suffolk Libraries now has 12 libraries with iPads available for lending and two libraries with iPads to use in the library.

The devices have been borrowed 450 times. One of the first customers to borrow an eReader, a 90-year-old woman with a visual impairment and arthritis, found it easier to hold than a large print book and also had the added benefit of being able to increase the size of the text.

Suffolk Libraries’ eLibrary includes eBooks, eMagazines, eAudio books and digital music.

Last year members borrowed 24,000 eMagazines; downloaded 52,000 songs and streamed nearly 109,000 songs.