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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Cumbria's libraries ready to embrace smartphone apps, Twitter and Facebook

Cumbria's library service is ready to embrace smartphone apps and social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

A task group of county councillors, led by Wigton Conservative Joe Cowell, has been investigating ways of improving libraries.

They were very taken by the example of Edinburgh, which has seen a sharp rise in the number of users after adopting new technology.

Examples of what could be in store for Cumbria include a smartphone app that allows borrowers to check-out books without having to queue and lets them reserve items online.

They can also scan the barcode of a book on sale anywhere to find out instantly if the library has it.

Other ideas include providing downloadable e-books and audio books and using social media such as Facebook to communicate with the public and get feedback.

The task group’s report says: “Twitter is reportedly a great way to deal with complaints because there is no room for waffle and the response must be straight to the point.”

Edinburgh’s library service began using social media in 2009. It launched the first library app in 2011.

The report says: “There has been a 40 per cent increase in attendance at events held by the [Edinburgh] library service since 2009-10, which is not down to luck but a direct result of how the service has been shaped.”

Edinburgh has introduced night events, called Edinburgh Reads, which attract between 100 and 150 people.

There is also a book festival with guest authors.

The councillors are due to present their findings to the ruling cabinet on Thursday.

Cumbria spends more than £10 million a year on libraries.

That puts it among the highest spenders, per head of population, among county councils.

Cumbria’s libraries have more lending stock per head of population than any other county in England.

And Carlisle library, in The Lanes, has been named by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy as one of the 20 busiest libraries in the country.


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