Government advice that children should be encouraged to join their local library at the earliest possible stage of their life has been taken to heart by Wirral Council.

From now on, when parents are going through the legal process of officially naming their child at the Registrar's Office, they will also be handed an interim membership card for their child for Wirral Libraries.

They will also be given information encouraging them to go along to their local library at the earliest opportunity to exchange their interim card for a full, free membership - giving them access to a whole range of learning materials and activities at any of Wirral’s 24 libraries for the rest of their lives.

A Government paper published earlier this year on the modernisation of the library service made it a priority that libraries should make membership available to a child at the earliest possible stage of their life.

By making every child temporary members at the time their birth is registered – which legally has to take place within the first six weeks of their life – Wirral’s libraries are self-evidently doing just that.

Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure, said: “We know children benefit in many ways from early access to books and reading and it is acknowledged that young children engaged in the library service from early on will become a library advocate in later years.

“It's never too early to introduce your child to the joys of a library.

"Wirral’s local libraries welcome children of any age, providing fun, stimulation and lots to explore – even before they learn to read.”

The authority says that the age when libraries were supposedly just a very earnest establishment, run by stern, stuffy, shushing librarians is long-gone.

There are still areas where people can go to work, research and read in peace, but overall local libraries now are all very child-orientated.

Each one is packed with music, stories, games, crafts, puzzles, child-size furniture, picture-books, and – significantly – other children.

Joining the library is free and easy – click the link below for more information, or just drop into your local library.