An innovative scheme introduced to promote reading and protect mental health during lockdown is proving popular with the younger generation.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Select and Collect book bundle service has allowed customers to continue borrowing during the pandemic.

Families have praised the service for helping to meet home schooling needs and improving mental health.

The Select and Collect service enables customers to phone or email their library to request the type of books they want, then collect a selection hand-picked from the library’s entrance.

Winnie and Valentine Long use the service at Whitby library and rely on it to help with home schooling. In January alone the library issued 201 book bundles to customers.

They were the first family to return after the initial lockdown when it reopened last July and continue to use the service.

Kirstie Long said: “Both children love the library. Winnie is an avid reader and I can’t contain her appetite for books. She has loved the Select and Collect book bundles. The selection has opened her mind to new authors she might not have chosen if the library hadn’t been open during lockdown.”

Valentine said: “The library books have been great entertainment away from TV,” with Winnie adding: “After a day of screen schooling, it’s great to sit back, relax and enjoy a real book.”

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “Our book bundles are very popular in the community as maintaining links with libraries can boost mental health and wellbeing. Our library staff are also having fun choosing books for customers as they are offering a personal shopping service.

“The home library service which sees volunteers deliver books to customers who are unable to visit a library is also continuing, and pre-booked library computer sessions are available for essential use, such as accessing services and benefits.”

Select and Collect is available at County Council-managed libraries in Filey, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Malton, Northallerton, Pickering, Ripon, Scarborough, Selby, Skipton and Whitby. Some community-managed libraries are offering the service where their volunteer capacity allows.

Customers are encouraged to check local community library websites and social media accounts for up to date information.

Read more details on what the library service is offering during the pandemic.