Havering’s libraries, which were closed on March 23 as part of the national lockdown, will begin to re-open from Friday 17 of July as the borough’s coronavirus recovery plan continues.
The service will re-open as a full ‘browse and borrow’ service starting with Harold Hill, Upminster, Hornchurch, Rainham, Central Library on July 17th with the other five libraries in the borough opening on Wednesday 22nd July. Libraries will have revised opening hours as some library staff will not be able to return to work due to health conditions or caring responsibilities.
Returning safely to libraries will mean some changes in how libraries operate. That will mean libraries look a little different with the measures we have put in place for the safety of staff and customers, following Government guidance. Social distancing will be in place and library staff have been provided with personal protective equipment to ensure their safety.
Library users will be asked for their contact details to support NHS Test and Trace and will need to try to keep 2m apart for social distancing, follow the one-way systems in place, to use hand sanitisers which are in every library. Library users are also asked to wear face coverings in line with government advice.
Because a large number of books were borrowed in the run-up to libraries closing, residents are asked to be patient and be prepared to queue as the service may become busy if many people return all their books at once and libraries will be operating on reduced capacities. Residents are asked to use the library closest to their home rather than travel further to a library that may be open earlier.
Books that are returned will be quarantined before being returned to shelves. No study space will be available in libraries until we can be sure it is safe to do so. Orange recycling sacks will be available to pick up in all libraries. Fines for late return of books remain suspended and no cash will be taken at libraries which means printing and photocopying services will remain suspended.
There will be reduced access to public computers with limited time and staff support. Unfortunately, library activities such as knit and natter and baby bounce will not be able to take place in libraries until further notice. Library meeting space will be out of use and no bookings will be taken.
Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council, said: “I know how important libraries are for our borough and I am proud that we can reopen a safe service in a Covid secure building’s as Havering’s recovery from this dreadful pandemic continues. Although opening hours will be limited at first, we will open longer when we can and this administration has invested to provide for a six day a week library service right across the borough as soon as we can safely do so”
Councillor Viddy Persaud, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “
“Library staff have been doing tremendous work during the lockdown and in particular I thank staff who have volunteered to make thousands of calls to our most vulnerable “shielded” residents.
“As libraries re-open, it’s up to all of us to keep libraries Covid-secure by staying alert, following the guidance and above all being kind and considerate to each-other. If we all do our bit, the chances of spreading the virus are reduced and we can all be Havering Heroes.”