LIBRARY customers have embraced the opportunity to return to branches and choose their own books following several months of closure.

Libraries in North Yorkshire have welcomes more than 5,125 visitors, who borrowed nearly 21,000 books and hosted 1,350 IT session.

One young boy who enjoyed his visit to Helmsley Community Library is three-year-old Rex Pickard.

His mum, Marie-Claire Pickard, said: “Rex and I were so happy to finally be able to step inside the library.

“He talked about it for at least a week before our visit and was so excited on opening day I think we may have even been the first visitors to Helmsley Community Library.

“The staff were all so welcoming and helpful, it just feels like a real step back to normality, which is so important for Rex at three years old, as lockdown was becoming his version of normal.

“Thank you to all the staff who helped make it so enjoyable for us, especially Rex. We've read a different library book every night at bedtime for the last week and look forward to our next visit.”

Library supervisor, Hazel Clarke added: “Marie-Claire commented that he had been so looking forward to choosing his own books, as she had been explaining to him that under normal circumstances children can pick their own books and look around the library.

“He picked his own books for the first time and went away with a bag full of dinosaur, tractor and big machinery books. It was lovely to see his excitement.”

The successful reopening comes after a challenging 12 months for the library service, but also a time of significant achievements.

During this period, libraries have hosted more than 800 events, activities and story times online via social media and the home library service, for people or carers unable to visit a library, has continued to support more than 1,200 people.

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “It has been wonderful to hear the feedback from people saying how lovely it is to be able to return to their library.

“This confirms our belief about how important libraries are to so many of the county’s residents. It’s great to see branches open again and I hope this time they will be able to remain open.”

Find out more about current library services at