Residents encouraged to make use of online cultural services

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Residents on Arran and across North Ayrshire are encouraged to take advantage of online cultural services while libraries remain closed over summer.

Across North Ayrshire, where libraries and museums have been shut, staff from libraries, museums, ranger service, youth services, active schools and locality teams have been redeployed to Childcare Hubs, looking after children who need extra support and those whose parents are carrying out essential work on the frontline. This provision will continue over the summer holidays.

This means that libraries and museums will be unable to re-open at the moment and users are being urged to take advantage of a wide range of alternative heritage and cultural services.

During this time, residents will continue to have access to an extensive digital library service offering ebooks, audio books, music, magazines and newly introduced community activities such as Bookbug session and author talks.

During lockdown, these services have seen a 143 per cent rise in Facebook engagement compared with the same period last year – showing how flexible and adaptable service users have become.

Over 1,000 digital devices and wi-fi boxes are being provided to families across North Ayrshire giving children and young people online access to carry on with their learning. A further 180 devices will be available to eligible adults through the Council’s partnership with Connecting Scotland.

The Council is also monitoring the digital access needs of job seekers and working in partnership with employability partners to ensure they can get access safely to complete online job applications.

Councillor Louise McPhater, Cabinet Member for Participatory Democracy, said: ‘The decision to keep our libraries and cultural services closed was one that was not taken lightly, but was taken out of necessity.

‘It is no secret that the Covid-19 crisis has hit our communities hard, particularly those already vulnerable and struggling. Our Council’s vision is to create a ‘North Ayrshire that is fair for all’ – and we hope our response to the pandemic has shown just how serious we are about this commitment.

‘A large part of our response has been the introduction of our Community and Childcare Hubs and we are extremely proud and grateful to all the staff and volunteers who have helped make this possible and who are providing support and advice to our residents throughout the crisis.

‘We’re not yet over the hurdle with the virus and it’s almost certain that it will have a detrimental effect on our communities for many weeks and months to come. That’s why it is vital that our Hubs continue. But to do so, they need our passionate, kind and hard-working staff at the driving seat – and that is why our libraries and cultural services have to remain closed for the time being.

‘While we cannot confirm a date as to when our libraries and cultural services will reopen to the public, we will keep this under constant review.

‘In the meantime, we have a fantastic digital offering available, free of charge, and an exciting new ‘Click and Collect’ service on the way – look out for more information on this shortly.’

Further details on all of the cultural services can be found by searching for the Council’s Libraries and Cultural Services Digital Resource Pack on their website at