LIBRARIES in the borough are launching a new e-book service which will give residents free access to up to 36,000 digital books and over 20,000 audiobooks.

Any member of Wigan library services will be able to download the BorrowBox app to their phone or tablet and access thousands of ebooks and audiobooks free of charge.

The new service comes as use of digital resources is growing significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Members will have access to a vast selection of books even while libraries remain closed.

Cllr Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “This is a really exciting addition to our library service and it will be like having an entire library on your phone.

“It also couldn’t be coming at a better time. I have been absolutely inundated with residents telling me how much they’ve missed visiting their local library during the pandemic, with this new service they will be able to borrow up to six books at once without leaving their home.

“For anyone who is not a member of the library service, I really encourage you to sign up and take advantage of this huge digital collection. It is available in addition to our existing e-magazine service which has been hugely popular during lockdown.”

Along with offering convenience, the service will have a range of accessibility benefits. This will include the option to listen to audiobooks and the ability to adjust book font sizes and formats to whatever suits the reader.

When the service launches in April, members will be able to borrow up to six books at one time with loans lasting 3 weeks. There will be the option to extend time limits for returns if needed.

Wigan Libraries were also recently awarded £10,000 in funding to deliver the Reading Friends initiative which is aimed at combatting loneliness and promoting wellbeing through reading.

The campaign has begun with a series of online sessions in care homes, led by renowned poet and inter-disciplinary artist Louise Fazackerley and supported by a team of volunteers.

The aim of the group is to start conversations amongst the residents based on the themed content read by the session-lead to stimulate debate and enjoyment.

Wigan Libraries also teamed up with Startwell to deliver sessions to new parents who haven’t had the opportunity to meet other new parents and socialise with their babies.

The group named ‘Little Friends’ saw 20 parents join the first Zoom class.

Cllr Ready added: “The Reading Friends initiative is a really positive scheme and it is an opportunity for our residents to embrace the joys of reading, improve their wellbeing and even meet some new friends.

“Our team working in the borough’s care homes have already seen a fantastic response and I can’t wait to hear how our new parents get on.”