Worcestershire’s libraries will begin to reopen next month after being closed for 3 months because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Six of Worcestershire’s libraries are currently due to re-open on Saturday July 4th, pending confirmation from Government, and in line with phase three of Central Government’s relaxing of lockdown restrictions.
The re-opening of the county’s libraries will be carefully phased, managed and monitored and only limited services will be available until social distancing restrictions are relaxed or removed.
Libraries re-opening to customers during the first phase are: The Hive, Redditch, Kidderminster, Malvern, Bromsgrove, Evesham.
Libraries that are re-opening will be open from 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturdays.
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “I am really glad we’re in a position where we can begin to re-open the county’s libraries but there are lots of changes we’ve had to make in order to meet the restrictions of the testing times we’re in.
We really are a county of library users and I’d encourage our customers to take advantage of the online services we have created, to allow them to access the best of what our libraries have to offer as these changes continue.”
Although some library doors will be opening, libraries will be unable to provide space for reading, studying, relaxing or meeting with friends and several changes will be in place to ensure the safety of library customers and staff:
- A ‘Reserve & Collect’ service will replace browsing and borrowing in libraries. Customers will be able to reserve items and collect them from a library that has re-opened.
- A limited number of public computers will be available each day on a booking only basis.
- All library items on loan can be returned to the libraries that are open - the return dates for all items on loan will be extended to 31 August 2020.
- Library Service at Home customers will begin to receive book deliveries to their homes.
- Library events will continue to be on hold due to social distancing restrictions but customers can access a wide range of online library activities, from streamed Storytimes and Rhyme Times, readers groups and computing clubs to business webinars and job-seeking support, at the Digital Library Hub on Libraries’ web pages
Many of the county’s library customers have taken advantage of the newly-launched Digital Library Hub during lockdown, and it is hoped that more customers will use these online services to complement the limited services available in libraries as they re-open.
From library closure in March to the end of May 2020, there have been 27,028 e-book and e-audiobook downloads from Worcestershire’s digital library, an increase of 137.8% on the same period in 2019 and 878 new digital library members, an increase of nearly 400% the same period last year.
In the same period, there have been over 4,400 views of weekly online library Storytime and Rhyme Time sessions, 171 people have joined libraries’ online computing club and 57 people have attended business webinars to find out how to set up and promote businesses online.
For more information please visit the Digital Library Hub pages on the Council website.