A LIBRARY is hosting a weekly programme of online events to help keep people's love of stories alive during the lockdown.
Darlington libraries are closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak but staff are working hard to ensure children still have access to books via their digital platforms and are providing a virtual service, including online story times, arts and crafts and Lego challenges.
Among the events put on by the library include virtual story telling with events library manager Suzy Hill and her dog Big Ron.
The first reading, of the Gruffalo, was watched by more than 11,000 people in their homes.
She said: "While out libraries are sadly temporarily closed we are missing our wonderful families and our happy, smiling children.
"These are extraordinary and challenging times and like everyone, we are adapting and doing things differently.
“Never has reading been so important to supporting wellbeing, creativity and learning than at the current time.
"With this in mind, we have decided to create some online activities which we are sharing on our ‘Bookstart in Darlington’ Facebook page.
“As well as providing some much needed escapism for children we hope that we can connect with our regular rhymers both past and present and bring a little joy.”
Library staff are also offering schools a box of book loans and museum and theatre costumes and props for the teachers to continue to school the key workers’ children.
The scheme is free, and library staff will deliver them to schools, as well as collect them and swap them for other resources.
Councillor Andy Keir, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for local services, said: "This is a great service that will help maintain contact with our younger library users during this difficult time as we follow government advice to stay at home.
“While we’re unable to open the libraries themselves, our staff are doing all they can to maintain services and support residents.
"Working together we can get through this.”
Weekly session include storytime with Suzy and Big Ron at 10am on Monday and 7pm on Friday, a draw-along at 1pm on Tuesday, craft session at 10am on Wednesday and virtual Lego club at 1pm on Thursday.
The activity sessions and story times can be accessed via the Bookstart in Darlington Facebook page.
Schools wishing to access loans should email [email protected]