Books to Go – Manchester Libraries housebound service.

The service is a lifeline for a lot of isolated and vulnerable residents and their carers in Manchester and was one of the first services to re-open after lockdown in a new covid secure way. The main focus was always on the health and safety of our customers and staff.

The Books to Go staff had kept in regular phone contact during lockdown with all their customers offering support, signposting them to other services or just for a friendly chat. When they were able to announce that the service was starting again they were overwhelmed at how people reacted and how much they had missed the service.

One customer who lived alone described how she was unable to leave the house and had not seen any one for months. She found the TV and radio depressing and was so pleased to be able to receive her large print books again and escape into a happier place. The books keep her going.

Here is a video showcasing some of the work the Books to Go Housebound Service offers. The film was recorded in 2019 before any Covid restrictions were in place.

Since lockdown, demand has been busy with referrals from the NHS, community workers and new partnerships being developed with a high street bank including information about the service in their customer packs.

Another long term partnership with the charity British Wireless for the Blind has been able to continue. The staff and charity workers finding new and innovative ways to safely deliver and set up the radios for customers with visual impairments.

Staff are also trained to offer support and signposting for basic IT help for customers to be able to keep in touch with family and friends and access council services.

The service is very popular, but they are still taking new applications. Here’s how you can apply.

The service is open to any age.

If you have limited mobility, a visual impairment or any difficulty leaving your home, or if you are a carer for someone who is housebound, you can apply to become a Books to Go customer.

How does it work?

When you join our free service you will be asked to give us an idea of what you like to read and our experienced staff will choose books for you according to your preferences.

How many items can I borrow?

You can borrow up to 15 items every four weeks. You will be informed of your delivery date well in advance.

What can I borrow?

Our central store of over 30,000 items of stock means that we are bound to have what you like to read. We have books in both ordinary and large-print size, talking books and DVDs.

How can I apply for Books to Go?

There are a few ways to apply:

  • apply using our online form, or
  • print off and complete the application form and send it back to: Books to Go, Hammerstone Road Depot, Hammerstone Road, Manchester M18 8EQ
  • email: and we will respond to you within 10 working days
  • Call 0161 227 3800 – our office hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm
  • Or contact your local library and a staff member will help you fill out a form over the phone.