The remaining East Sussex libraries closed in response to the government’s Covid-19 guidance are set to reopen next month.
The 12 libraries will open from October 19 after a positive customer response to the measures in place at five facilities which reopened in July.
The layouts of the libraries will change to enable people to easily follow social distancing guidance, which means fewer books and computers will be available.
Due to the additional staff needed at each site and enhanced cleaning necessary, the opening days and hours – which have yet to be confirmed, will be significantly reduced.
Councillor Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for communities, said: “Thanks to the hard work of our libraries team and customers embracing the measures at the five libraries already open to the public, we have been able to work on plans for the reopening of the remaining 12.
“We are delighted that we will soon be in a position to open these libraries in a way that keeps customers and staff as safe as possible.”
A small number of people will be allowed in the libraries at any one time and can browse a limited number of books and borrow up to 20 items. Customers will also be able to order online or by phone any item from the lending stock of the entire county library catalogue free of charge, and have it delivered to the library of their choice. Computers will be available during time-limited, pre-booked sessions.
There will be no toilet facilities or photocopying service, and DVDs, newspapers and periodicals will not be available.
When the libraries reopen clear screens will cover library counters, hand sanitiser will be placed at the library entrance and there will be enhanced cleaning. Markers and signage will help customers to maintain social distancing.
In line with government guidance, visitors will be asked for their name and phone number at the time they go into the library. This information may be shared with the NHS test and trace programme if needed and the county council is reminding people not to travel to a library if they have any Covid-19 symptoms, no matter how mild. All returned books will also be quarantined in line with the latest government guidance.
Councillor Bentley said: “We will provide as many services as possible but we are not going to be able to offer the library experience that people are used to and I would still encourage people to use our fantastic eLibrary where they can.
“Since our buildings closed in March, the online library has gone from strength to strength with almost 80,000 members signing up to access eBooks, eAudio and eMagazines.”
He added: “I’d like to thank our customers for their wonderful feedback on the support that our staff have provided while our libraries were closed and since we reopened five libraries in July. Library staff have done a fantastic job to help customers during lockdown and get our libraries safely open again.”
Existing and new library loans will be automatically extended until November 30 and there will no charges or fines during this period.
The East Sussex County Council eLibrary is available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries/online
Image Credits: Nick Forman .