Lancashire County Council will be reopening more of its libraries on Monday 27 July, but people will need to book an appointment before visiting.
The online system to book an appointment is now open at www.lancashire.gov.uk/coronavirus-updates/libraries
For those who can’t book online, appointments can be made by calling 0300 123 6703.
When booking, customers will be asked to provide their name and contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace system. During their visit, customers will be required to wear a face covering.
The ground floor lending library at The Harris in Preston, which is run by Preston City Council on behalf of Lancashire County Council, has been open since 11 July. Books can be returned and borrowed without an appointment at The Harris.
The further 12 libraries that will reopen across each district are:
The opening hours of the libraries will be Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm.
Customers can now book an appointment to use either of the two borrowing services available:
• Six of the best – a selection of up to six books made by library staff for the customer and collected from a library at the pre-booked appointment time
• Browse and borrow – to come into the library for a pre-booked 30 minute period and choose books. There will be a limit on how many people can come into the building at any one time
As other libraries will remain closed for now, customers can make an appointment to visit any of the libraries that are open, even if it isn’t their local library.
All visitors will be required to wear a face covering unless they are exempted. Children under 11 will not be required to cover their faces.
Access to computers, printers or photocopiers will not be available in the libraries at first. It is hoped to make these services available again soon.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming our customers back into our libraries, but we need to take a phased, step-by-step approach to this.
“That’s why we are opening up 12 of our libraries for now, and offering limited services.
“People will notice significant differences in how we are able to safely open them, for the time-being. A big difference is that people won’t just be able to enter the library but will need to book a timeslot. This is necessary so that we can enable social distancing and limit the number of people in a library, in a way that is safe for customers and staff.
“Our customers will also be able to return their books without booking an appointment. People will need to respect social distancing rules but it will be fine for our customers just to return their books that they borrowed before lockdown in the containers provided.
“I’m grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding, and I’d ask everyone to keep an eye on our website and social media channels where we will announce further details of other libraries reopening, when it is safe to do so.”
Anyone wanting to return books can do this by placing them in the returned books container at the entrance of the libraries that are open. No appointment will be necessary to do this, but people may need to queue in a socially distanced way so that this process can be safely managed. Books will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are re-shelved.
Customers will not be charged for any overdue items. Library users are being asked to hold onto their books until they can return them to an open library and not try to post them through letter boxes or leave them outside libraries. Books can be renewed online or by calling 0300 123 6704.
The home library service will also be available from Thursday, 23 July, prioritising our most vulnerable customers.
Library staff will choose books and contact people who have requested the service to arrange delivery to them. The books will be delivered to people, working to socially distancing guidelines.
Library staff have been working hard to start to prepare council libraries, in line with national guidance, making sure all buildings are Covid-19 secure so that residents and staff are safe when using the service.
Although some libraries will remain closed, there are many online resources available, including eBooks, audiobooks, newspapers, comics and magazines using Borrowbox, RBdigital and PressReader.
New digital activities have also been launched, with different activities on social media. These include:
• The Monday Lego Club on Twitter and Facebook.
• A Lunch break book club also takes place every two weeks on Twitter and Facebook.
• A family book club taking place every two weeks on Twitter and Facebook
Other services available include:
• The Lancashire Volunteer Partnership’s telephone befriending service whilst the home library service is temporarily stopped due to coronavirus.
• Online resources including information, facts and figures, family and local history, newspapers, school work and study.
• Remote access has also been arranged for library members to the popular family history resource, Ancestry.com
• The service Ask a Lancashire Librarian, where our librarians staff a web-based enquiry service Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm has continued. Out of those hours you can submit a question and the service will get back to you the next working day.
More details will be made available in the coming weeks as to which libraries will be open and when, plus what services will be available. For more information, go to www.lancashire.gov.uk/coronavirus-updates/libraries-archives-and-museums/
More information is available about The Harris at www.theharris.org.uk/press-news/reopening/
Find out the about how services are affected by the coronavirus at latest www.lancashire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/your-health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/ latest