How the digital revolution is taking hold at St Helens' libraries

St Helens Star: Sue Williamson, pictured far left, at the offiicial e-book launch today, with library staff and guests including the Mayor of St Helens Andy Bowden Sue Williamson, pictured far left, at the offiicial e-book launch today, with library staff and guests including the Mayor of St Helens Andy Bowden

THE head of St Helens library service has described her mission to innovate and create change as she looks to drive forward its modernisation.

A big step in the transformation of the network happened this month when St Helens Council rolled out a service that allows readers to download books to their tablets or phones.

But library spaces are increasingly being used to host author talks, concerts, arts projects and dramas.

Leading the change is Sue Williamson, boss of the libraries, who recognises that people’s access to books has shifted dramatically.

The e-book service will provide 1,000 titles for download and can be used with most tablets, phones and e-readers, except Kindle as Amazon has not signed up to the scheme.

It is free and there are no fines for late returns as the book disappears from the device after a certain period.

Sue told the Star: “This will attract people who perhaps have not been using the service maybe because they are at work during the day.

“At the moment reading has a high profile and the way people choose to read is changing.

“E-books have made a big difference. I have one and am able to carry around a virtual library. But any organisation has to move with the times and respond to what their customers want.

“There are no library services looking backwards. We are looking at innovation and change.”

Sue explained how people can borrow an e-book: “If you have a device which operates with apps you can download the book from the company that is supplying us with the books.

“By using your library card and number you can then download the book. If you have an e-reader without an app you can download it to your pc or laptop then on to the reader.”

“Then after three weeks it disappears into a virtual puff of smoke.”

Sue was also full of praise for Johnny Vegas who held the latest of his question and answer sessions about his autobiography at St Helens Central Library.

Sue added: “We are very grateful to him as he is a huge supporter of libraries. The key thing in as far as making kids read is how do you make reading cool?

“Youngsters look up to people like Johnny Vegas. He is seen as an influence. He can stand up and tell stories, but if I did that it wouldn’t have the same impact.”

Sue said that people’s desire to read is as strong as ever: “Reading is my own way of escape. Immersing yourself in a good story is a stress buster and takes you out of yourself for a little while.

“Everyone is entitled to a library card but there is never any pressure on you to use it. You can come into libraries and no one will try and sell you anything.

“But you can just get a book and browse.”

Wednesday (April 23) was World e-book day which saw librarians offer guidance as to how best explore the new service.

For further information visit: http://sthelens.lib.overdrive.com

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