How libraries can support your New Year’s resolution

Starting something new doesn’t have to be expensive or require a lot of effort; your local library is full of free resources and services to help you throughout the year. We’ve compiled a handy guide to how libraries can support you in your New Year’s resolutions. No matter how big or small your milestones are, we’ve got you covered.

Woman reading book at library bookshelf

Read more, spend less

Do you want to read more often, but find yourself spending too much money on books that you never get round to reading? Borrow a book from your local library instead. There’s a huge selection of books to browse in the library catalogue, or if you’re into ebooks or audiobooks, download the BorrowBox app. Just log in with your Hampshire Libraries membership details and see the wide variety of books available. Read on your travels and when you’re out and about – the perfect way to start reading more often. And it’s super sustainable too!  

Elderly man using computer in library

Learn something new

We’ve all resolved to learn a new skill at some point. But this can be expensive if you’re buying new equipment or signing up to a course to support your new venture. Many of our Learning in Libraries courses are free and offer a wide range of skills and activities to get stuck into. From seated dance, to learning to sew or computing for beginners, whatever you’re into there’s something for everyone. Or if you fancy learning more independently, read our blog on books for beginners to learn a new skill.  

Group of people knitting and smiling

Join a new group

It can be tricky to make new friends and find clubs or societies in your area. The library is a great place to discover a new group and find people who share your passions. Give back to the local community by volunteering for one of the charity groups or come along to Friendly Fridays at Yateley Library and enjoy some games. Or if you fancy a creative activity, there are knit or craft and natter groups. You can even meet new people from the comfort of your own home with the digital readers book club. Simply head to the events section on our website to find out what’s going on near you.  

Person outside in activewear

Cut down on screen time

We’re all guilty of being consumed by our phones, tablets and TV screens. Seek some inspiration from the library catalogue to spend less time looking at screens and more time exploring the outdoors. Why not try out a new form of exercise or connect with nature at your local park and discover the hidden secrets right on your doorstep? Or entertain yourself on your lunchtime walk and listen along to the Love Your Library podcast.  

Parent and child reading in the library

Share more stories

Sharing stories is a great way to connect with friends and family, through bonding over your favourite twists and turns in tales. Encourage your little ones to read more often by joining the Winter Mini Challenge. Once they’ve finished a book, they can give you their full review so you can find out which stories they enjoy. Or come along to a storytime event and hear your favourite books being read aloud.  

Student sat in cafe with headphones on

Reach new goals

Whether you’ve set a new career or study goal this year, libraries are the perfect quiet spot to concentrate and avoid distractions. Hire a room or study space to get your head down or to learn with a group. Computers are free of charge for all library card holders, and you can log into the free Wi-Fi on your own device. If you’re studying, read our blog on the ways libraries can support students.  

Don’t forget that no matter how big or small your goals are this year, Hampshire Libraries is here to support you. Starting something new in the smallest way is the biggest step to reaching your targets. These aims don’t have to be daunting, stay motivated and focused with a little help from your local library.   

Hampshire Libraries wrapped: the best of 2022

Chandler's Ford library with Jubilee bunting

We’ve loved finding ways to make your 2022 better and brighter. Whether you’ve been using your local library to find ways to save money, join the Gadgeteers in the Summer Reading Challenge, or enjoyed listening to the Love Your Library podcast, we’re glad you’ve joined us for what has been a very busy year. 

We wanted to look back on everything we’ve done together this year, so we’ve created a roundup of our best of 2022 as we look ahead to the New Year. 

Summer Reading Challenge  

Two children enjoying a book during the summer reading challenge

Over the summer, we once again held our annual Summer Reading Challenge. This year the theme was Gadgeteers, a collection of friends who love science and wanted to help your children discover the innovation behind the world around them. It was brilliant hearing about all the books Hampshire’s newest Gadgeteers read this summer, and we’re so pleased that so many children had fun! 

If you enjoyed the Summer Reading Challenge this year, why not join in with the winter mini challenge from The Reading Agency? The Gadgeteers are back to spark your children’s love of reading once again. It finishes on 20 February so sign up now and get stuck in. 

Pride month 

Pride month graphic with volunteer holding LGBTQ+ books and a rainbow flag

For Pride month this year, we invited Ren, a volunteer at Chandler’s Ford Library, to talk to us about the delightful list of queer books we have available at our libraries and share some personal recommendations. Our selection covers a range of books published in the last 40 years, so if you’re looking to diversify your reading then there’s sure to be something for you either as a physical copy or an eBook or audiobook on Borrowbox

Love Your Library podcast 

The Atlas Paradox book cover

It’s been an amazing year for the Love Your Library podcast, from superb interviews with award-winning authors, to expert recommendations from our library teams. 2022 has brought us plot twists, belly laughs, bestsellers and so much more. Take a look at all the episodes from 2022 have a listen!  

Death Positive Libraries 

Death positive libraries graphic for Hampshire Libraries

Libraries are uniquely placed to be a centre for bereavement support as well as a trusted space where conversations about death and dying can take place with caring staff on hand to help. So, in March we launched Death Positive Libraries.

We specially selected a collection of books for adults offering practical information and guidance and created one for children to help initiate conversations about death. These resources and much more are still available in each of our five hubs, so please make use of them and keep the conversation going.  

Cost of living resources

Man in a cafe in a Hampshire Library

As times have become tougher, libraries have supported communities across Hampshire. We put together some helpful resources on the different ways libraries can support you during the cost of living crisis. From learning a new skill to practical resources on budgeting, there’s something for everyone.

That’s a wrap! 

What was your highlight of 2022 and what’re you most looking forward to reading in 2023? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram, and sign up to our newsletter so you can stay up on all your local library’s news in the New Year. 

Have a lovely festive season, and we’ll see you in 2023.  

5 festive reads for children this winter

Book covers of festive books for winter

As the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect time to cosy up in the library or at home and share a story with your little ones. Escape to faraway lands and engage their imagination with stories about adventure, friendship, and mystery.  

We’ve prepared a list of our favourite festive stories to borrow from your local library, so you can keep your children entertained over the winter months. Based in chilly settings, these beautifully illustrated picture books have twists, turns and heaps of snow to get you excited for the magic of the holidays. 

The Snowman and The Snowdog book cover

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog by Raymond Briggs  

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is the sequel to much-loved classic The Snowman™. Billy isn’t full of festive cheer as his beloved old dog has passed away. When snow starts to fall, Billy builds a snowman, and with his leftover snow builds a snowdog too. Later that night, something magical happens; Billy embarks on a wonderful snowy adventure as The Snowman™ and The Snowdog come to life. 

And you can join The Snowman™ and The Snowdog in real life on a festive winter wander around some of Hampshire’s most spectacular country parks. A Winter Wander with The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is taking place at Royal Victoria Country Park, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Lepe Country Park. Head to the event website to book now.  

The Storm Whale in Winter book cover

The Storm Whale in the Winter by Benji Davies  

The Storm Whale in Winter is a follow up to Benji Davies’s bestselling book The Storm Whale. Last summer, Noi rescued a little whale when it washed ashore in a great storm. Now he longs to see his friend again. Winter sets in and Noi worries about his whale and if it can survive the harsh conditions. 

One night Noi thinks he sees the whale out at sea and rushes outside for a glimpse of it. Soon the whale may be lost in the blanket of ice and snow – who will rescue him? Follow Noi and his old friend on an emotional story about long-lasting friendship.  This beautifully illustrated tale is full of busy scenes and captivating characters, to keep children engaged while reading along.  

No Sleep for Bear book cover

No Sleep for Bear by Duncan Beedie  

Winter is approaching and it’s time for Bear to have a nice long sleep. But the more he tries to get to sleep, the more awake he feels. So, he decides to copy his forest friends who seem to doze off without any trouble: he sings in the trees like Blackbird, burrows underground like Badger, and even hangs upside down from his cave roof like a bat. But nothing works – until wise Frog shows him how to relax, and soon the forest is reverberating with his snores! This is the perfect story to send your little ones off to sleep on a chilly winter’s night. 

The Snow Dragon book cover

The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone  

When the first snow of winter falls, Phoebe wishes for it to bring with it some much-needed magic. In Griselda Bone’s Home for Strays, magic, daydreaming, and doodling are banned. Just as Phoebe is about to give up hope, a Snow Dragon appears and whisks her away on an adventure. An enchanting tale, full of fantastical creatures and winter magic. The Snow Dragon is also available to borrow as an audiobook to listen along as the little ones drift off to sleep.

Snow Penguin book cover

Snow Penguin by Tony Mitton  

In the frozen Antarctic, one curious little penguin decides to explore the ice, snow and sea. On his travels he sees two blue whales, a family of sea lions and a whole school of orcas, but soon Penguin starts to miss his own family. Sometimes coming home is the best adventure of all. Told in rhyming couplets, this feel-good book explores themes of bravery and courage. Cosy up on Christmas morning and follow this little penguin’s journey.  

If your kids would like to try out some other books this winter, head over to the Reading Agency’s website to find out more about the mini winter reading challenge. This challenge is full of fantastic books to discover this winter. Hurry and complete the reading challenge before the holidays end.  

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 are also plenty of free activities available to keep children entertained over the holidays. There are 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!