Somerset Libraries have this week announced they are planning the phased re-opening of Burnham-On-Sea Library and others across the county, with the aim of starting to welcome people back as early as possible in July.
Somerset County Council has warned, however, that library buildings – like the one in Burnham’s Princess Street – will look and feel quite different than the past, as some processes temporarily change.
Social distancing measures will be in place and a ‘personal shopper’ service will be available as customers will not initially be able to browse.
Staff will be available to select items for customers based on popular titles, specific interests and favourite authors.
Other changes will mean:
- The reservations service will not be up and running straight away
- Staff will be unable to accept donations of books from customers until further notice
- All items will have a standard four-week loan period
- Library opening times will be slightly different (e.g. 10am-4pm)
- Hire charges for DVDs and Talking Books will be suspended
- The service is also keen to reassure people that there will be no overdue charges as a result of items borrowed just before buildings closed on the 19th March due to COVID-19
- Internet access will be available for those who need it most and people will be asked to pre-book a session in advance
Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Libraries said: “In line with Government guidelines, we are carefully planning the gradual re-opening of buildings to ensure that we minimise the risks for both staff and customers.”
“Almost 8,000 people responded to a recent survey which indicates a very encouraging level of interest and support from Somerset residents and we look forward to welcoming everyone back soon.”
“We would still like to invite as many people as possible to download free books, audiobooks and even magazines, comics and newspapers.”
Full details of which libraries are planned to open and when that’s finalised will be available via the Somerset Libraries website, by email at email@example.com or by calling 0300 123 2224.
The county council also says the Somerset Mobile Library Service should also be back on the road later in the year.
The Library service has also just started to reintroduce the Home Library Service, which works closely with the Royal Voluntary Service whose volunteers deliver books to people unable to leave their homes. For more information on how to access the Home Library Service, email Kirsty at Kirsty.Jenssen@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk.