THE number of residents using West Dunbartonshire Council’s online library has trebled during lockdown, while the number of e-books and e-audiobooks accessed have doubled.

The news comes following a recent investment of £30,000 in new online books and magazines to expand the online collection.

Following the temporary closure of libraries due to lockdown, the library service has reinvested the money traditionally spent on paperback and hardback books to the online resources, which have seen a surge in demand in online borrowing during the pandemic.

Digital titles as well as a selection of digital eMagazines and eNewspapers can be downloaded free from the council’s websites and accessed anywhere on a range of devices including mobile phones and tablets.

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Councillor Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services, said: “During these long days when we have all to remain at home, our digital books, audio books, magazines and newspapers are a welcome distraction from what is going on in the outside world.

“Our libraries are continuing to provide free access to books and magazines just as they always have. It is great to see 72 per cent of users in April were new to the service.

“In addition, digital magazine use increased by 600 per cent since last year and more than 3,000 digital newspapers articles have been read since lockdown, while video sessions including Bookbug have gone up from 41 to almost 10,000.”

Councillor Iain McLaren, vice convener of the corporate services committee, added: “Many of us are taking up new hobbies and our libraries have a large range of books to help get you started whatever your interest.

“Residents who were unable to return their books before the branches shut don’t need to worry as all items on loan will automatically be renewed until the branches reopen.”