LIBRARY staff have been hand-picking hundreds of books to give out to people who are self-isolating at home, as well as doing online story times for children.

The staff at Darlington Libraries have been doing their best to continue services, despite the buildings in Crown Street and Cockerton being closed.

More than 100 people have already accessed the libraries’ interim home delivery service, for members aged over 60 who were self-isolating at home.

The scheme offers a delivery of ten books to their doorstep, while maintaining appropriate social distances, which is replenished every four weeks.

Around 1,750 books have been hand-picked, based on the members’ interests, and delivered by the hard-working library staff, who say they have received "wonderful" feedback.

Mr and Mrs Rodney Burges, aged 73 and 78 respectively, said: “The library offered to provide us with audio books. They took the trouble to find books in the genre we like by authors we enjoy and the initial selection of books was spot on; the library had taken a lot of care.

"We aim to make a donation when this emergency is over. By providing access to books they have helped us to maintain some normality.”

Mrs Summers wrote a note to the library to say thank you. She wrote: “Many thanks for your kindness in bringing books for me to read in these difficult times. I enjoy reading, it helps me to relax, and helps to pass the time away.

"Hopefully you will continue this service to those who enjoy reading, you are doing a wonderful service for the public, many thanks to you all.”

Darlington residents, who are aged over 60 and a library member, can telephone 01325 349610 to join the scheme.

Younger library members have been enjoying storytime sessions and children’s activities ‘broadcast’ via the libraries’ Bookstart in Darlington page on Facebook along with a host of fun activities to take part in.

Councillor Jon Clarke, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, joined in earlier today by bringing to life library mascot Deefor Dragon for the latest storytime session.

He said: “Our library staff are working hard to maintain as many services as possible and to support our residents through this difficult time.

“The online storytime sessions and activities have been a big hit and it’s great to be able to play a small part in bringing this to life for our younger residents – we hope they continue to enjoy the sessions as much as the staff enjoy them.

“It’s wonderful to read some of the messages of thanks and support we’ve received too – I know that together we can get through this as a community – and I’d like to say my own special thanks to the library staff and all our colleagues across the council who are working so hard to keep things going.”

Staff have also created a special "box of imagination" for schools that are educating the children of key workers.

The boxes are full of non-fiction, fiction, audio and picture books for pupils to enjoy along with a creative book of props and costumes from Darlington. Hippodrome.

Deliveries have been made to 12 schools so far.

Library users are also reminded that fines for overdue books are currently suspended and are asked to keep any books at home until they reopen.

Other library users can also access a wide range of eBooks and eAudiobooks via Darlington Libraries online services.

To find out more and for details of online events/activities log onto the website at: www2.darlington.gov.uk