Ways to use your library during the cost-of-living crisis

As times become tougher, we look to libraries to inspire the local community.

Hampshire Libraries are versatile spaces. From cosying up and enjoying a good book to popping along to one of our rhyme time sessions with younger children – there’s something for everyone. We’ve put together some helpful guidance on the different ways you can use your local library during the cost-of-living crisis. Our libraries are welcoming spaces for the whole community to enjoy, so make the most out of our free resources. 

Find information and advice

Libraries are a great source for information and advice. This advice is provided in many accessible formats, from podcasts to eBooks and magazines, so however you like to research there’s a format for you.

Why not look at some of our books on budgeting and personal finance? These handy tips can help us through the winter period, especially as energy prices rise and the festive shopping period starts. You can even find books on cooking on a budget. There are many resources on how to budget while providing for your family.  

Upskill with a Learning in Libraries course

Our Learning in Libraries courses provide a great start to finding the right job for you. From courses on computing for all, to English for speakers of other languages, there’s a wide variety of new things to learn. Add some useful skills to your CV to give you that little boost. Or why not learn something that you’ve always wanted to give a go, such as capturing the perfect photo or the art of watercolour? 

Enjoy free entertainment

Cancel your streaming subscriptions to save some pennies? Stay warm and cosy in the library this winter to enjoy free entertainment and a range of exciting new books. All Hampshire library card holders can use the BorrowBox app, which gives you free online access to a huge selection of eAudiobooks and eBooks.

And if you enjoy listening, give our Love You Libraries podcast a go. Episodes feature interviews with some of the nation’s best-loved authors, as well as book news, library updates and in-depth discussions with the people behind the bookshelves at our branches. 

There’s also plenty of free activities available to keep children entertained over the holidays. There’s free worksheets and activities on the Kids’ Zone and audiobooks to listen to while you’re on the school run. Entertaining the whole family doesn’t have to be expensive with a little help from your local library.  

Stay connected

It can feel very isolating when we’re trying to avoid spending money on socialising. Stay connected at the library and join one of our friendly clubs. Based in warm, comfortable spaces, community clubs are welcome for anyone to join. There are a variety of activities for you to enjoy, from knit and natter groups to a Spanish communication club. Or practice wellbeing and join a mindful moments class to focus on your mental health in what can be a challenging time for many.

Get online

Public computers are free to use for all library card holders, or you can bring your own device along and connect to the free Wi-Fi. Our library staff can help you to log on and find the right software to use. Libraries also provide cost-effective printing, either from a public computer, your own device or even from home.

Support your local community

Hampshire Libraries are supporting the most vulnerable within the local community. There are now 19 community pantries across the county providing access to discounted food, some of which are in Hampshire Libraries. Community pantries provide groceries at a lower cost than supermarkets or shops, offering a range of fresh, frozen, and general foods which change on a weekly basis. Anyone can access their local community pantry as long as they’ve signed up to become a member. 

Do you know someone  who can’t visit their local library themselves? We can arrange to have library books delivered to their home on a regular basis. We offer books in standard and large print and have a wide range of audio books in different formats. If you would like to borrow a particular title from Hampshire’s stock, we can get it for you!

Looking for more ways your library can support you and your household during the cost-of-living crisis? Visit our cost-of-living resources page for more information.

Ten ways your local library is supporting students

The autumn term is in full swing, and everyone’s back to school, university or college. While homework, coursework and revision piles up, it can be tricky to study from home if you need access to specific materials or just a space free from distractions.

Hampshire Libraries offer a wide range of free resources for students. From study spaces to a variety of research materials, we’ve got you covered. So here’s a handy list of ways your local library is supporting students.

Free access to computers

Computer at Chandler's Ford library

If you don’t have access to your own computer, don’t worry – there’s free access to computers at Hampshire Libraries for all library card holders. You can even pre-book a library computer online to make sure you’ve got a spot saved for cramming the day before an exam. Our helpful library teams can help you to log onto the system and navigate through the different programmes you need.  

Access to printing

Anyone can print documents at the library from any computer or mobile device, you don’t have to be logged into one of our library computers or be a member of the library. You can print A4 and A3 full colour documents – perfect for coursework and poster printing. Printing and photocopying charges apply.

Study spaces and room hire

Man with headphones on laptop in public area at the library

Libraries are the perfect place to study. Avoid procrastination and pesky distractions in one of our designated study spaces. There are quiet zones throughout our libraries that offer a place to settle into a deep focus for last minute revision. You can even bring your own cold drinks and snacks into the library to refuel throughout your study session. 

You can also hire a room at the library from just £7 to teach a class or host a private study group. These are great areas for group projects and collaborative spaces, to share ideas and work on presentations together. There are over 20 locations to choose from. 

eBooks and audiobooks

Tablet with borrowbox logo resting on bookshelf

There are thousands of eBooks and audiobooks which can be downloaded for free with just a few taps on your smartphone, tablet, eReader or computer. Just download the Borrowbox app or log onto the Borrowbox website to gain access. Catch up on your reading while you’re on your travels or sit back and listen to a new book.   

Free Wi-Fi

Girl with headphones using laptop at Winchester Library

Internet speeds at home leaving a lot to be desired? Broadband dropping out just as you get to the good bit of your study break comfort watch? Stay connected in your local library and get online with free Wi-Fi available at all our branches. Log onto your own laptop, tablet or phone or use one of the public computers to get online. 

Accessibility for all

Hampshire Libraries are welcoming, inclusive spaces for all to enjoy. Our teams receive regular disability awareness and equality training. All our libraries are wheelchair accessible and are either on one floor, or have lifts provided. Most of our libraries have fixed hearing loops in which our staff are trained. All Hampshire Libraries have computers with large print keyboards and tracker ball mice.  

Study resources

Girl reading book in study area at the library

Libraries are full of study resources – from books to magazines, the British Newspaper Archive and a variety of podcasts. You can also access 15 million peer reviewed articles, perfect for project research. There are loads of online research platforms for you to use for your studies.

Activities and entertainment

Take a well-deserved break and recharge with some entertainment at the library. From comedy shows to author talks and theatre productions, check out what’s on at your local branch and extend your study session to include some much-needed leisure time too.

And if you’re a book lover, why not listen to our Love your Library Podcast? Our episodes feature interviews with some of the nation’s best-loved authors, as well as book news, library updates and in-depth discussions with the people behind the bookshelves at our branches. 

Pick up a new skill

Our Learning in Libraries courses are a great way to learn a new skill and to prepare you for life after studying. There are a variety of courses available – from finding the right job to photography and digital skills. Or unwind and destress from your studies with a yoga session – there’s something for everyone.

Group reading sets

Working on a Shakespeare play or To Kill a Mockingbird in your English class? Hampshire Libraries provide sets of books for groups to borrow. There are over 1700 sets available, with a focus on modern fiction, but we also provide some classics and non-fiction works. Make learning more fun by reading along with your friends and discussing your thoughts on the plot and characters.

So whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to study, a place to socialise with your pals or access to free eBooks and audiobooks, we’ve got you covered. Find out more and explore what your local library has to offer over on the Hampshire Libraries website.

Feeling the pinch? 4 free ways families can make the most of the library

This blog post is brought to you by Fostering Hampshire Children. Check out their #OpenYourDoor campaign to learn more about what foster care is and how you can support children across the county who need our help. 

Libraries have long been a haven for adventurers, mystery solvers, romantics, inventors and historians to settle down with a title to quench their curiosity. And it’s not just books that libraries provide; there are courses to learn a new skill, clubs to spark imagination, groups to make connections and resources to support you through some of life’s challenges.  

There’s so much your local library can do for you and your family that it can be hard to know where to begin, so we’ve rounded up some of the best free and low-cost things Hampshire Library has on offer for families. 

Connect with clubs

Children playing with construction blocks at the library

Hampshire Libraries’ various clubs and activities are a great way to catch kids’ curiosity! Maybe they want to learn about coding, or perhaps they want to try constructing something from their wildest dreams. Whatever their interest, they’ll be able to meet and make friends with other young people while learning something new and having fun. The best thing? Most of these activities are free, meaning you save money on toys and teaching! 

Books, but different

An image of an audiobook displayed on a smartphone

Not everyone likes reading hard copy books, and that’s okay! BorrowBox has eBooks and audiobooks that you can access wherever you are, and specially curated lists put together by Hampshire Libraries’ very own teams. There are also titles for children and young adults, meaning that they don’t even have to put down their phone or tablet to lose themselves in a good story.

The reason for rhyme

Parent holding child on lap while listening to a rhymetime session at the library

Did you know that bringing your little one along to a rhymetime session at your local library can be helpful for their development? Not only will it help them learn new sounds and words, it can boost the social skills they’ll need when they start school. You’ll also get to meet other parents and carers giving you some of that much needed adult time – don’t believe the myth that you have to be silent in the library, stay afterwards for a natter with your new friends! 

Get online

Young adult wearing headphones using a laptop at the library

Broadband speed in a slump? PC on the fritz? Missing technology needn’t be a barrier to getting homework sorted or emails seen to. There’s free WiFi in all of our libraries, computers that are completely free for all library card holders to use, and access to printers and photocopying for a small charge. Plus, you can use Access to Research on any Hampshire Libraries computer, giving you access to 15 million peer-reviewed articles. Homework = sorted! 

There’s lots more to Hampshire Libraries than books, so find your local branch and see what’s on!