Frontline staff at Ottery St Mary’s library are spreading some friendship during lockdown by giving out special postcards to library users – and asking them to send messages of support to others.
Four bright and cheerful postcards have been designed by East Devon-based illustrator Rosie Johnson, two of them as line drawings so they can be coloured in.

Sidmouth Herald: The postcards of support designed by local artist Rosie JohnsonThe postcards of support designed by local artist Rosie Johnson (Image: Ottery Library)

The idea is that people making use of the library’s Choose and Collect service will find one of the postcards in their collection bags – and then fill it in and send it to someone they love, such as a care home resident or someone who is self-isolating.
"The team at Ottery Library are really excited about the Postcard Project,” said Xanthe Waite, library supervisor. “We are popping a postcard into each Choose & Collect bag, and we hope that people will use them to send to friends, colleagues or someone they are missing. It's a way of staying connected to others at a time that can feel quite isolating. The sense of community has always been important to us here at Ottery Library and this is another way of reaching out to people. The Lifeline Services we are offering have proven to be very popular, and necessary."

Sidmouth Herald: Ottery Library supervisor Xanthe WaiteOttery Library supervisor Xanthe Waite (Image: Xanthe Waite)

As well as Ottery, the initiative will run across 54 libraries run by the Libraries Unlimited charity including Sidmouth, Honiton, Axminster and Seaton. Staff will be distributing 3,500 postcards in total, with 60 cards going to each library.
Zoe Buttling, Evolve programme co-ordinator for Libraries Unlimited, said: “We have had a great response to the A-Z of Wellbeing project, which has been running since the beginning of January, and the full project can be found at our website
Libraries Unlimited resumed lifeline library services on January 18.

Sidmouth Herald: Bags of books waiting to be collected with a free postcard insideBags of books waiting to be collected with a free postcard inside (Image: Ottery Library)

The independent staff and community owned charity said it can also support families by providing books to aid home learning and reading for pleasure.
Lifeline library services are offered by appointment only so people are advised to contact their library via email or phone to book based on availability.
Tabitha Witherick, head of library service and customer experience, said: “We know that library services are a lifeline and we’ve valued heartfelt feedback demonstrating how reading and library staff have made the last few difficult months more bearable.”