DARLINGTON’S libraries are set to offer a series of activities in a drive to woo children back to the public facilities after figures revealed lending to youngsters fell more sharply than to adults during the pandemic.

Darlington Borough Council’s local services scrutiny committee heard the last year saw a 49 per cent drop in items borrowed by adults, from 171,000 to 88,000, but a 70 per cent drop in the number of items children borrowed.

Library bosses told councillors with more junior borrowers lost over the pandemic, they were planning activities, events and experiences to draw children and families to its libraries in Crown Street and Cockerton again.

However, after launching online membership during the first lockdown and since last March, some 870 people had become members of the library service despite the limited service.

Members heard digital borrowing had leapt from 25,000 items in 2019/20 to nearly 60,000 last year, as people struggled to access the library’s physical stock.

The meeting heard the £2.9m revamp of the Crown Street library was due to start, but it remained unclear whether the costs would increase due to the pandemic.