For tens of thousands of people each year, Eastbourne Library is a literary lifeline.
It’s not just a haven for borrowing books, but a focal point too for a number of activities as the library service seeks to diversify what it has to offer customers.
For those who are hard of hearing, the library is a valuable resource.
“We are far more than about books,” explained Abigal Luthmann, equal access manager for East Sussex Library and Information Services.
“Libraries now are being used more than ever. For example, libraries are putting on information and health events for organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Arthritis Association and cancer charities. They have their own stands where people can come along and find out more about the organisation.
“We also have ‘Read Aloud’ sessions which are free events where members get together and where short stories or poetry is read. These are very popular, especially for those who perhaps feel a little isolated.”
Abigail’s role deals with equal access for those who might find physical barriers to a library, such as a handicap, or perhaps a cultural barrier, such as English not being their first language.
In terms of hearing loops, Abigail said that they were very supportive of their installation.
At Eastbourne Library in Grove Road, loops have been installed at both counters; downstairs in the main part of the library and also around the first floor reference section.
They also have a couple of portable loop systems which are used for meetings, and the ‘Read Aloud session - they have held the ‘Read Aloud’ session at the Hearing Resource Centre in St Leonard’s Road to allow those with a hearing disability to find out more about the event.
A recent check of the library by auditors from the charity Hearing Link discovered the loop on one desk downstairs, but the microphone on the other desk. The Hearing Loop sign was also in the wrong place.
Abigail said that they frequently tests the loops and welcome the feedback.
Abigail apologised, saying that Eastbourne Library would ensure that these issues were corrected. They have quarterly inspections of hearing loop equipment in all libraries. in East Sussex. “We regard hearing loops important to ensure accessibility for all of our customers,” she said.