Somerset Libraries were named as national examples of excellence following an independent review.

Baroness Sanderson conducted the glowing review, which looked at English Public Libraries.

The report applauded six distinct features from Somerset, including their community libraries, health programmes, digital innovation, and thermal camera loans.

Somerset also had the most individual contributors with 11 in total.

Lady Sanderson toured various libraries throughout the nation to assess their delivery of service.

She engaged not only with the employees of these institutions but also with campaigners, volunteers, and library users.

The baroness proposed eight recommendations which were thoroughly outlined in her report.

On community-operated libraries, the report identified them as "well-used and much-loved cornerstones of the community".

In particular, the Castle Cary branch, known for its established links with carers’ groups, was seen as a prime example.

Furthermore, Lady Sanderson pointed out that many libraries have added health professionals to their staff.

She said: "A lot of people get white coat syndrome in a surgery, so they find it easier here.

"And the great thing about being here is if there’s an issue around weight, say, or just not knowing what to cook I’ll often suggest they have a browse in the cookery book section, or I’ll gently direct them to some of the books on general health."

The independent review also acknowledged the creative use of digital technology within Somerset Libraries.

The Glass Box at Taunton Library is highlighted for its ground-breaking features including a device that supports people in learning computer engineering and programming, and even a 3D printer that had been used to create a prosthetic foot for a child.

In certain cases, Somerset Libraries offer thermal imaging cameras for loan.

One satisfied customer had managed to identify cold spots within their property through this technology which prompted action by the housing association.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, the executive lead member for community, said "Our libraries in Somerset provide a service to be proud of – amazing work is carried out and they are so much more than a place to borrow a book.

"As the report says, public libraries sit unassumingly at the heart of our communities, a world of possibilities behind their doors.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in our libraries – the staff, the willing volunteers, our customers, and Lady Sanderson for coming to Somerset and seeing our wonderful service at first hand."