Libraries will re-open on Monday with new measures in place to protect users and staff.
Following the Government announcement of further easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Hampshire County Council has set out the measures that will be in place to keep library users and staff safe when customers are welcomed back.
Councillor Sean Woodward, Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage at Hampshire County Council said: “For those who still wish to visit a library once the lockdown eases, we will be putting in place the necessary measures to ensure staff and public safety – similar to those in shops now.
“All libraries will be Covid-secure, with hand sanitiser available and distancing measures in place. We would ask people to use the self-service kiosks as far as possible and expect to wait sometimes, as there will be reduced capacity in the buildings due to social distancing.”
Other Changes in Hampshire libraries from 6 July include:
• Ready Reads: We Select You Collect: Library staff will handpick a selection of books for customers who complete an online form or call 01962 454747. These can be collected without queuing.
• Book Lending and Short Visits: To reduce wait times and allow as many people as possible to visit our libraries, people are asked to limit their visits to a maximum of 30 minutes and to keep browsing to an absolute minimum. Reserved items can also be collected at this time. Newspapers and magazines won’t be available for the time being.
• Self-service including new library app: Customers are asked to use self-service machines to borrow or return items where possible or download the new Spydus Mobile app to check out books by mobile phone.
• Overdue loans: Pay outstanding fines online or by using contactless kiosks inside the library. Late fees will remain frozen until the start of August.
• Shared computers: Computers are free of charge to use for all library cardholders, to secure a session you must book in advance by calling 01962 454747.
• A place to study: Study places will be available from 13 July: to secure a session you must book in advance by calling 01962 454747.
• Toilets: Our toilet facilities will remain closed to the public for the time being.
• Events, activities and groups won’t be able to meet in libraries yet. An online timetable of events and activities including baby Rhymetime, storytime, bedtime stories, the Summer Reading Challenge, and podcasts will continue.
Councillor Woodward added: “I am very grateful for the support that residents have shown during the lockdown period and the way people have responded positively to the different ways of accessing library services through the innovative use of technology.
“We’ve seen an enormous increase in the number of people using our digital library services. Our staff have also been delivering online workshops and activities and staying in touch with our most vulnerable customers.
“Our new ‘Ready Reads’ service – where our staff select books according to a reader’s preferences which customers can then collect from their local branch – has been used by over 3,000 people since it started just a few weeks ago.
“These new and enhanced schemes offer new opportunities for people to access a wide range of library services, demonstrating a shift in the way people are using library resources. We expect this trend to continue and undoubtedly inform the proposals I will be considering on 28 July around the future of the library service.”
Full details of what to expect when next visiting a Hampshire library, as well as information on digital resources and online activities are available at: www.hants.gov.uk/library