Hertfordshire libraries are looking at offering a ‘click and collect’ service for the county’s bookworms.

The county’s network of libraries have had to close their doors as part of measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

And since then a limited range of online services – including access to magazines, newspapers, e-books and e-learning – have continued to be available.

But now it has emerged the library service is looking at plans to re-open a small number of libraries, as soon as national guidance allows.

And they are also looking at the possibility of offering a new ‘click and collect’ service at others.

The plans are included in a report report compiled for a meeting of the county council’s special cabinet panel meeting on Wednesday (June 3).

However that report stresses that the plans are in preparation for when national guidance indicates that it would be safe to reopen “certain public spaces”.

And speaking in advance of the meeting executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris said there would be a significant amount of work in setting up a ‘click and collect’ service.

At the meeting members of the panel heard that virtual visits to libraries, borrowing of e-books and use of services such as BorrowBox had increased.

Cllr Douris said that during April – compared to April 2019 – the use of e-services had effectively doubled, increasing by 110 per cent.

He said visits to e-magazines had gone up by 87 per cent, digital newspapers by 137 per cent and visits to the online earning platform had gone up by 175 per cent.

And he said BorrowBox, e-books and downloadable audio books have increased by 67 per cent.

He also pointed to a range of virtual activities run by the library service, including a Lego project and ‘reading together’ – with plans underway for the annual summer reading challenge.

And he told panel members the libraries team had “stepped up” to deliver a service for in these challenging times.