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Norfolk Libraries provide lifeline for thousands during lockdown

20 May 2020

Thousands of residents have been turning to Norfolk’s libraries during the lockdown - with a surge in online borrowing and people using new digital library activities.

Tens of thousands more eBooks were downloaded this April than last year - up 63%, while the number of people using the eBook service jumped 80% and just over two thousand new people signed up to use the library online for the first time, in March.

As well as books, many of Norfolk libraries’ popular events have gone digital to help keep people connected. Films of activities run by libraries for babies, children and young people have already been viewed over 172,000 times.

That includes over 93,000 views of Bounce and Rhyme session videos which have gone online to help parents and carers keep their toddlers active.

Norfolk’s libraries have also continued to support the county’s small businesses during lockdown through its Business and IP Centre (BIPC) by providing video content and have run 67 online events including 1-to-1 advisory clinics and free webinar tutorials.

Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, Cllr Margaret Dewsbury said: “These statistics speak for themselves - books and reading have obviously been incredibly important to people during lockdown and we’ve even seen hundreds more people join us online.

“We’ve also found new and creative ways of connecting people with our service and keeping them in touch with each other.

“I’m very proud of the way Norfolk Libraries have supported their communities during this difficult period - and the way our teams have worked so hard to ensure our libraries are as accessible online as they would be in person.”

During lockdown, at Norfolk Libraries:

  • 27,730 digital titles were downloaded through the Libby App in April 2020 - up 63% on the previous year. Users of the Libby App were up 81% on last April
  • Films of activities run by libraries for babies, children and young people have already been viewed over 172,000 times (93,600 views - Bounce and Rhyme videos, 70,554 views – Brick Building Club videos and 7,765 views of Storytime videos)
  • Children’s downloads jumped a staggering 315% compared with April last year. The most popular title was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in e-Audio
  • There were 2,688 downloads for a new eBook Club reading collection, with the most popular title being Matt Haig’s “Reasons to Stay Alive” – a memoir of how the author overcame crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again
  • More than nine thousand people read nearly a quarter of a million news articles online via Press Reader for free in April and nearly 11,000 more eMagazines and eAudio books were downloaded from RBdigital. The most popular eMagazine titles in April 2020 were New Scientist, Woman & Home and Good Housekeeping
  • The number of people using Britannica Online, to source trusted information, nearly doubled in April compared to April 2019

Other highlights include:

  • Norfolk's Libraries have launched new weekly virtual Just a Cuppa sessions. The first event brought residents from Norwich, Hunstanton and Sheringham together to see and chat to each other on Zoom
  • Heritage Centre podcasts - new episodes available every Tuesday at 10am. Listen online or via a podcast app
  • Libraries have used their Facebook pages to support the work of local artists, musicians and other cultural organisations – and share them with Norfolk residents

Visit to find out what’s going on at Norfolk Libraries, explore their online resources and how to join.

Keep in touch with Norfolk Libraries on Twitter - @NorfolkLibs, Facebook - @NorfolkLibrariesUK, Instagram - norfolklibraries and YouTube - NorfolkLibraries

Just a Cuppa sessions will be taking place on Saturdays at 10.30am via Zoom. Library staff will help people who are unfamiliar with using Zoom.

People can watch and join in with Bounce and Rhyme through Norfolk Libraries' Facebook page every Tuesday morning at 10am and children’s storytime every Monday and Wednesday at 12pm and Fridays at 4.30pm.

Full details of Norfolk Libraries’ Business and IP Centre can be found at Contact the team on Twitter @BIPCNorfolk or by email on

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