Libraries help beat loneliness

Norfolk’s pioneering library project to tackle loneliness has been recognised in a national report by Arts Council England. The Library and Information Service’s Libraries Loneliness project was among five national schemes singled out for praise in the report, which looked at the contribution organisations make to combat isolation in our communities.
One in five people aged over 65 in Norfolk is believed to be lonely, and local libraries and mobile libraries are part of Norfolk County Council’s In Good Company campaign, which aims to promote positive ways in which people can connect with others.
Since the libraries started their part of the project last November, they have almost doubled the number of activities for older people, from 57 to 113.
This ranges from creating a welcoming atmosphere where staff listen and talk to visitors and weekly tea and coffee sessions to a timetable of regular activities.
These include: Just a Cuppa, which provides companionship and allows staff to identify signs of loneliness and offer support; Knit and Natter and Crochet and Chat sessions; and games of Scrabble. Some libraries also hold Colour Me Calm activities, colouring sessions where participants can talk as little or as much as they like in a relaxed atmosphere. Jan Holden, Head of Norfolk Library and Information Service, said: “It is really fantastic that the great work our libraries do to support communities has been recognised by Arts Council England. It gives other libraries across the UK a good example of a great project. Our libraries are places where vulnerable people will always be welcome and our staff are brilliant at ensuring our service responds to their needs.”
Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “It is great that our loneliness project is leading the way nationally and helping to ensure that people in our Norfolk communities feel less isolated.”
Research by the Local Government Association shows being lonely can increase your risk of premature death by 30pc. It also suggests that being lonely is more harmful to your health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Most borrowed library books for 2016

Norfolk libraries’ most borrowed books for 2015-2016 have today been revealed, with a mix of adults and children’s favourites topping the chart.

The most borrowed book, being issued 1,854 times in the county across the year, was Susan Lewis’s novel Too Close To Home.

For the third year running, children’s favourite Liz Pichon’s The Brilliant World of Tom Gates has made the top 10, this year reaching number 5. The data was compiled by Public Lending Right (PLR).

The 10 most borrowed books were loaned out in the county more than 16,000 times. In total, Norfolk County Council’s libraries issued more than five million items in 2015-16. While the vast majority of these items were books, e-books, e-audio books, e-magazines, DVDs, CDs and console games are included within that total.

Norfolk’s has 47 library buildings and 8 mobile libraries. Norfolk’s Millennium Library loaned more items than any other public library in the UK, lending 984,445 books and other items in 2015/16.

It is free to join Norfolk libraries and borrow books. Books can also be returned to any county library, not just the one they were borrowed from.

The top 10 library books borrowed in Norfolk were:

1: Too Close to Home by Susan Lewis

2: Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse

3: Wish You Were Here by Catherine Alliott

4: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

5: The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

6: Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon

7: Personal by Lee Child

8: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

9: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

10: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café by Milly Johnson

Nationally, the Top 10 Most Borrowed Titles in 2015/16 were:

1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
2. Personal –  Lee Child
3. Make Me – Lee Child
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – Jeff Kinney
6. Alert – James Patterson
7. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever – Jeff Kinney
9. Awful Auntie – David Walliams (illus Tony Ross)
10. Truth or Die – James Patterson


School library book returned, 63 years late

A rather overdue library book has been returned to a North Walsham school library 63 years after it was borrowed – by the student who took it out in 1953.

The anonymous former North Walsham High School for Girls student, now in her 70s, discovered the book – a 1929 copy of Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson – when clearing out clutter in her house, and was shocked to find it stamped with a 1953 return date.

She returned the book to North Walsham High School, which replaced the girls’ high school and Paston Grammar when they were phased out. The former site of the two schools is now Paston Collge.

Now, present-day students can enjoy the author’s tales of travelling in southern France with his donkey companion.

The school library is appealing for anyone else who might have a long-overdue book to return it – and are promising that no late fines will be levied.

“We don’t charge overdue fines at the school library, and whilst we don’t lose many books, there must have been a few which have been inadvertently retained by students over the years,” said school librarian Liz Sawyer. “It would be really nice to get some of them back, especially older books which we might not have on the shelves today. The lady who brought back the Robert Louis Stevenson book apologised for not returning it sooner – but better late than never!”

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is Robert Louis Stevenson’s account of his 120-mile solo hike through the sparsely populated Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878.  His only companion was Modestine, a stubborn donkey with which he has a difficult relationship, but eventually grows fond of.

  • the-title-page-from-travels-with-a-donkey-in-the-cevennes

    NWHS librarian Liz Sawyer with the overdue book from 1953 which has been-returned. PICTURES: ANDY NEWMAN

    NWHS librarian Liz Sawyer with the overdue book from 1953 which has been returned.





Library to celebrate the Broads’ literary heritage

The influence that the Norfolk Broads have had on artists, poets and writers over the years will be celebrated at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library next month, as part of a prestigious link-up with the British Library. Continue reading