Our libraries are open
We’re sure you can’t wait to visit our libraries again, but, due to coronavirus, there are some new safety measures in place, as well as some changes to our library services, that you should know about.
The video below has all the information you need to know before you visit one of our libraries. We suggest familiarising yourself with the new measures, but don’t worry – when you arrive at a Better library, there will be plenty of signage and helpful staff on hand to guide you. Together, we can keep our libraries safer, better and stronger than ever.
Which libraries are open?
Some of our libraries have started opening. Choose your local library below to find out more information, including which libraries are now open and their available services:
How are we keeping you safe during coronavirus?
Our staff are doing everything they can to keep our libraries as clean and safe as possible. As part of the coronavirus regulations, our libraries will have:
- Extra cleaning throughout the day.
- Hand sanitisation stations to use as you enter and exit.
- A limited number of visitors, so it will be easy to maintain a physical distance.
What can you expect at your local library during coronavirus?
The way our libraries operate will be slightly different to what you’re used to.
Before you come to the library, be sure to:
- Check the opening hours of your location as we will be operating with reduced hours.
- Check what facilities will be available as some services may not be operating.
- Reserve items online, by phone or email if you’d like to borrow something from the library. A member of staff will then let you know when it’s ready to collect.
You can find your local library here.
During your visit to the library, we ask that you:
- Keep a safe distance from other visitors and staff.
- Come alone if you can.
- Acknowledge the coronavirus safety signs around you and listen to the staff as they are there to guide you.
- Queue if necessary.
- Wipe down any surfaces and equipment before and after use with the cleaning materials provided.
- Pay using card, not cash.
What library services will be available during coronavirus?
In some libraries, you will be able to:
- Browse and borrow books, DVDs and other resources.
- Book a computer for 30 minutes.
- Use the printer and photocopier.
These services will not be available in all libraries or areas, so please check with your local library before visiting.
Below are some of the new and existing services available in most of our libraries:
Some libraries will be dishing up a Library Takeaway. What will you order? A bag of thrillers? Cookery books? Documentary DVDs? The process is simple:
Call or email your local library with your interests or to reserve items from our catalogue. Phone numbers can be found on your local library's page. Choose a local library below to search their catalogue:
We will handpick and issue your quarantined items and pack them ready for collection.
Your order will be available for collection from your library at a designated time
Home library service
The home library service is for residents of Bromley, Dudley, Greenwich, Lincolnshire and Wandsworth who are unable to get to the library and who do not have anyone to go to the local library for them. They also provide a service to people in residential homes and day centres. For more information on the home library service, choose from one of the locations below:
Social media programme
Our librarians are running an online programme of activities for children and adults – so follow your local library on social media for bed time stories, baby rhyme time and more:
There are a wide range of online resources which cater for all age-groups and tastes. You can download great eBooks, eAudiobooks, eNewspapers and eMagazines and even eComics – all from your phone, tablet or desktop device.
Frequently asked questions
Can't find what you're looking for? See the answers to the most frequently asked questions below.
My books were due back while you were closed – will I be fined for late return?
All overdue charges are currently suspended, so there is no urgency and all late return fees will be waived.
Can I return items if my local library is closed?
- All loans have been extended during the closure period and so no late return fees will be due.
- Loans for libraries not yet open will be extended further.
- If you can visit a library locally that is open, then you can return and borrow items from there.
Are book drops open?
Yes, if you have returns, you can drop these through a book drop at any library for quarantining.
Which libraries are open?
Most of our libraries are now open with reduced opening hours, capacity and services and are following government and local authority guidance.
Please check your local library for more information about re-opening dates and opening hours.
What services are not be available?
Most libraries will initally not be able to offer the following:
- Relaxed seating
- Study areas
- Hard copy newspapers and magazines
- Borrowing from other libraries
- Activities and events
Check your local library here to find out what services are running.
Are toilets available?
No, public toilets will not be available for use.
When will the library return to normal services and hours?
Library services and hours will return when not only is it absolutely safe to do so but also as and when it’s in line with the government’s coronavirus regulations.
I am not a library member. Can I join?
Sure! You can sign up to our libraries here.
Can I book time to use a computer?
In some libraries, yes you will be able to book to use computers, however, computer sessions will be a maximum of 30 minutes. Please check here to see if your local library is offering this service.
Library safety measures
What measures have you taken / put in place to minimise risks of virus transmission?
- Thorough cleaning by both professional cleaners and staff
- No shared equipment unless disinfected between uses
- Hand sanitiser stations at entrances, exits and enquiry counters
- Screens at enquiry counters
- Closing non-essential areas including study tables, meeting rooms and casual seating
- Quarantining of all returned stock for 72 hours
- Cashless payment options
- Changes to library layouts where possible as well as introducing clear floor markings and more signage to help customers and staff maintain social distancing
- No events or activities
What is my responsibility regarding social distancing in the library?
- Practice social distancing at all times when in the library
- Follow the guidance of our staff at all times
- Observe all notices and practice hand hygiene
- Floor markers and signs will indicate safe distance
What do I need to know before coming to the library?
- Please do not visit the library if you feel unwell
- Use the hand sanitiser provided when entering and exiting the library
- Let a member of staff know if you or anyone in your household develops Covid-19 symptoms
- Please be patient and polite with staff and observe all signage
Will you be temperature testing staff or members in the library?
How are you protecting your staff?
- The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority. We have put an extensive range of protective measures in place. These include (but not limited to); increased cleaning specifications, hand sanitiser stations, adhering to social distancing guidelines and the closure of non-essential areas.
- In addition, our staff will be washing their hands frequently and have been issued with cleaning materials and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks and disposable gloves. Screens have also been installed at enquiry counters.
Do I need to wear a face covering in the library?
Do I need to wear a face covering?
You are required to wear a face covering if you’re visiting a library
Will the new safety rules be in place forever?
The situation is evolving and we ask customers to continue to continue to return to our website for the latest updates and guidance.
Is it safe to handle books and library items? What precautions are in place?
Yes, all returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours in line with Public Health England guidance before being available to borrow again.
Library loans and reservations
How will I be notified about my reservations?
When your reservation is ready to collect, we’ll contact you by phone or email to let you know.
I had a reserved item ready to be picked up before the libraries closed – what happened to it?
We’ll contact you to see if you’d still like it and arrange a time for you to come down and collect it.