UK libraries are set to reopen – but not as we know them

UK libraries are set to reopen – but not as we know them

UK libraries will start to reopen from 4 July. But anyone hoping to pop in and browse the bookshelves, drop their child off at rhymetime or spend a couple of hours using the computers is going to be disappointed. “We have the capacity for 20 people at a time,” says Rachel Braithwaite, project development manager at the Archibald Corbett Library in south London, which will, unlike many other libraries, be opening its doors from 4 July and restarting at least some former activities. “There will be a space marshall and hand sanitiser at the door. Everyone feels differently. People who would be worried won’t come. But personally I’m looking forward to it.” Returned books will be put into crates and quarantined for 72 hours. As for browsing, there may be a system whereby any books that have been touched and not borrowed have to go into quarantine; it’s still to be decided. But the system to check books out is in place: librarians will be behind perspex screens, through which library cards can be scanned. During lockdown online library services have been booming, but it’s also important, says Braithwaite, to offer more than online services. For the past three weeks, the library has provided a click and collect service – and only one book order has so far been put in. “A lot of our customers are people without access to computers. If we do things like click and collect, or online activities, that won’t reach them,” she explains. “We want ...
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