Public libraries set to reopen in July

PUBLISHED: 12:50 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:19 04 June 2020

Bruce Leeke is chief executive of Suffolk Libraries.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bruce Leeke is chief executive of Suffolk Libraries. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Libraries in Suffolk are set to reopen from July - albeit with limited services during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Ipswich County Library. Picture: RACHEL EDGEIpswich County Library. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The county closed its 44 library premises as the coronavirus lockdown came into force in March.

However, government guidance states that libraries can now reopen from July 4, under the gradual easing of restrictions.

Suffolk Libraries therefore hopes to open most of its buildings during the week beginning Monday, July 6 - but warned: “Opening times are initially likely to be different for all library buildings.

“Getting 44 different sites open safely requires careful planning and more information will be shared with customers as soon as possible so everyone understands what’s happening in their local library.”

For example, the government has advised that the browsing of books should be discouraged for safety reasons - meaning there will only be a limited selection of books for people to choose from.

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Reservation services will be reintroduced slowly, while screens donated by Barclays Bank will be put in place at enquiry desks.

Suffolk Libraries is also still investigating whether computer services and printed can be brought back, while community and children’s events will remain suspended.

The libraries will follow national guidance on social distancing, for example by encouraging people to stand at least two metres apart when queuing.

Krystal Vittles, head of service delivery at Suffolk Libraries, said: “Many people have been enjoying engaging with us online but we know people have missed visiting their library so the prospect of reopening our physical sites is great news.

“The safety and wellbeing of staff and customers will remain the priority. We hope that customers will understand that we’ll have to implement measures to reduce the risk and ensure social distancing can be maintained.

“We’ve already adapted by putting a greater focus on our diverse online offer. We’ve also launched exciting new services to ensure we can help people stay connected and offer support and advice to people remotely.

“We’ll carry on running these even after library buildings reopen and continue to reach out to the community in a number of different ways.”

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