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Lockdown Library….Lockdown Lifeline!

With a year of lockdowns and restrictions the Ilkley Playhouse Lockdown Library has been a lifeline to many and raised almost £5,000 for the playhouse.

Celebrating its first birthday on 22 May 2021, an iP correspondent looks back on the last 12 months:

Chief Librarian Jonty Hawkes came up with the idea when he ran out of reading matter during the first National Lockdown in 2020. Remembering there was a small selection of pre-loved paperbacks for sale at iP he picked up a couple on one of his Covid secure bar stocktaking visits. Thinking there may be others craving books, the idea to catalogue and advertise available titles to pre-order was born. The addition of DVDs followed later coupled with the opportunity to sample some delicious bakes which were offered to iP members (click and collect), alongside the Lockdown Library. Books, DVDs and cake – what a winning combination to keep the Covid blues at bay!

Open every 2 weeks on a Saturday morning for collection of pre-orders throughout the Lockdowns the service thrived and through expanding the offering through various media channels, such as Ilkley Chat, the customer base expanded beyond the members of iP to others across the Ilkley area, eager to bag another Ellie Griffiths or revisit the original BBC adaptation of ‘Brideshead’ again. Additional support with cataloguing was sought as the library continued to benefit from many bouts of ‘de-cluttering’ during the Lockdowns. The book and DVD shelves are now very well stocked with – 2,800 books (pretty impressive from an opening stock position of 170!) and 1,000 DVDs. So well stocked that we are now only accepting donations from our supporters!

With our milestone birthday in sight, we asked some of our loyal customers what the iP Lockdown Library has meant to them. ‘An asset’….  ’A social service’….  ‘A reading lifeline with both the libraries and charity shops being closed during the Lockdowns’. And this from a member, teacher and regular user of the service - ‘Lockdown Library has given joy, pleasure and happiness. I have always attended events at the Playhouse and when Lockdown Library started I wasn't disappointed. I have topped up my own bookshelves but also used them when homeschooling for our weekly story time as well as a range of poetry books to celebrate World Poetry Day and art books to give us creative flair.’

It’s been really touching to hear some of the other ‘book back-stories’ behind both purchases and donations too such as the gentleman we named ‘Nine Bag Man’. Arriving with five sturdy ‘bags for life’, brimming with the contents of his family bookshelves, he advised he and his wife were retiring to Essex, to be nearer the grandchildren. Thinking he was departing immediately, we wished him ‘bon voyage’ and were then aghast when he turned up at the next Library session, two weeks later, in a taxi (his car was being serviced ready for the journey south!) with another four bags!

Then there was the selection of non fiction train and railway volumes we received - in beautiful condition. How lovely to learn from the purchaser that they were heading for a care home where one of the gentleman residents was a keen railway enthusiast. 

So what’s next for the Lockdown Library? Perhaps a ‘re-branding’ as, fingers crossed, lockdowns are a thing of the past. That said it does have quite a good alliterative ring to it! We’re aiming to continue with the service, at least across Summer 2021, potentially with the opportunity to enjoy a coffee and cake inside the premises, so please continue to support us. To date the sales of books, DVDs and iP bakes has raised an amazing £3,800 with an additional £1,000 pounds from the generous donations of our supporters. These are much needed funds which are supporting the Playhouse’s immediate recovery from the pandemic and are contributing to keeping this well loved asset to the town open long into the future.

The Lockdown Library is available on two Facebook pages: Books facebook.com/IPLibrary DVDs facebook.com/IPDVDs

For further information please email Jonty jonty@directsave.net


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