04/06/2020 - Permalink

Coronavirus: Planning underway for a phased reopening of libraries

Related topics: Coronavirus / Health / Leisure, culture and heritage

Although library branches in Shropshire currently remain closed in line with Government guidance, planning is well underway for a phased reopening of libraries across the county.

Libraries have been closed since March when the coronavirus restrictions were introduced, with mobile libraries off the road and buildings closed to the public.

Now the latest Government guidance indicates that libraries may be allowed to reopen in Step 3 of the lockdown-easing plan, which will be no earlier than 4 July 2020.

In resuming face-to-face services, the priority will be the safety of customers, staff and volunteers, with a range of measures being considered – including social distancing, more frequent cleaning of surfaces, and limiting services overall.

Michael Lewis, Shropshire Council’s library service manager, said:-

“Although we’re really looking forward to welcoming our customers back into library branches, it’s clear that we will need to take a step-by-step approach, with potentially only the largest couple of libraries opening in the first instance on a very limited basis.

“We’re closely engaging with the development of national guidelines for the safe reopening of libraries, so our plans will be informed by that national picture and by local circumstances. Resuming services in a safe way will definitely be the top priority.”

While physical library buildings have been closed, the online services offered by Shropshire Libraries have seen an upsurge in use.

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said:-

“Digital library services such as e-books and e-magazines have been a lifeline for many during this crisis, but we also know that people desperately miss being able to visit their local libraries, whether that be for borrowing books, using the IT facilities, attending events and activities, or just having a chat with library staff.

“Library buildings themselves are vital hubs for their communities, and although the reopening process will take time, things are heading in the right direction.”

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.

In the meantime you can access online services from Shropshire Libraries here https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/libraries/libraries-from-home/.

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