FIVE further libraries are preparing to reopen in Leicester next week.
From Tuesday 1 September, the Brite Centre Library, Belgrave Library, Hamilton Library, Highfields Library and New Parks Centre Library will reopen to the public.
It means that nine of the city council’s 17 libraries will now be welcoming visitors back, although all will be operating reduced opening hours to begin with, and offering a limited range of services.
It is part of the council’s plans for phased reopening of neighbourhood facilities, prioritising access to information, books and computers first. Further services such as community room bookings and community activities will recommence later.
Assistant city mayor for neighbourhoods Cllr Kirk Master said: “We’ve really missed having our buildings open - and we know that local people have missed visiting, so it’s great that we are able to open up more of our libraries and slowly start to bring back our vital neighbourhood services.
“We are reopening in a phased, controlled way because the most important thing is the safety of our staff and visitors. This means at first, we’ll be operating reduced opening hours and services, from 10am until 4pm on weekdays only.
“We’re busy making plans to extend services as soon as we can, with the hope that we will be able to welcome back community groups later in the autumn. This puts us in line with the reopening plans of many other local authorities.”
Four city libraries in multi-service centres which also offer housing advice were prioritised for opening first, and reopened on 10 August. They are Beaumont Leys Library, the Pork Pie Library & Community Centre, St Matthews Centre and St Barnabas Library.
Services have been redesigned in line with the latest safety guidelines. Social distancing measures include queueing systems, distancing signs and screens at reception desks. In line with Government guidance, face coverings must be worn by people aged over 11 in public buildings, as well as in shops.
You will also be asked for your name and contact details if you are entering a council building. This is a Government requirement, so that you can be contacted by the test and trace service if needed.
Overdue charges on library books are currently suspended, and book loans have been extended for up to six weeks.
Library visitors are advised to order their books in advance of their visit, by selecting books online at www.leicester.gov.uk/libraries or by calling the library they wish to visit. Please remember to bring your library card with you, as people are being asked to use self-service kiosks wherever possible.
Not all library services will be available - social activities such as under-fives sessions or community group bookings will not currently take place. Browsing time will be limited to 15 minutes and newspapers and magazines cannot yet be supplied.
The number of public computers available has been reduced in line with social distancing guidelines. Customers must book in advance at www.leicester.gov.uk/libraries or by calling the library they wish to use.
Further city council buildings will reopen over the coming weeks and months in line with the city council’s recovery plan.
Meanwhile, Leicester Libraries’ online services will continue - including access to a wide range of e-books, e-comics and e-magazines, plus weekly online storytelling sessions for children – at www.leicester.gov.uk/librariesfromhome