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Norfolk libraries to begin reopening next week

02 July 2020

Norfolk’s libraries will begin to reopen from Monday, with safety measures in place to keep staff and customers safe.

There will be a total 12 sites reopening on 6 and 7 July with the rest to follow in the coming weeks and months.

Norfolk’s libraries closed when lockdown started in March and, while many people have been using the enhanced digital offer, they have missed using the service in person.

Changes have therefore been made to allow customers to use the library safely. This includes asking customers to only visit the library on their own or in pairs and the introduction of a one-way system through every building.

Customers are also being asked to make sure they bring their library card with them to gain access to the building and use the provided hand sanitiser as they enter.

Head of Norfolk Library and Information Service, Jan Holden, said: “Very detailed planning has gone into our staggered approach to reopening our libraries. Phase one will involve opening 12 sites to allow people to use computers, return stock and borrow items again.

“Staff will be on site to guide customers and all libraries will be providing hand sanitiser stations and clear signage. We look forward to welcoming people back, although things will feel very different.

“We will have a select and collect service for people who don’t want to browse. There will also be limited browsing, with a one-way customer flow system, to make sure customer visits are safe and comply with social distancing. We will be asking people not to stay too long and there will not be any study spaces or newspapers on offer.”

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities, said: “Although our digital library service has proved very popular since March, we know some people have really missed visiting libraries - so we’re doing what we can, while ensuring safety is paramount.”

Families can also benefit from a selection of 'Grab & Go' bags for children which will contain pre-selected books that can be checked out as a set.

Computer sessions are also available through a booking system, with each station sanitised after each use. Seating areas, study spaces and newspapers will not be available when the libraries reopen.

The libraries that are set to reopen next week are:

  • Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
    (
    Main Library (Monday - Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 9am-5pm, Sunday: Closed
    Norfolk Heritage Centre - Closed
    American Library- Closed for refurbishment
  • Mile Cross Library
    (Monday: Closed, Tuesday: 2-6pm, Wednesday: 10am-6pm, Thursday: 2-6pm, Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • King’s Lynn Library
    (Monday - Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm Sunday: Closed)
  • Downham Market Library
    (Monday: Closed, Tuesday: 10am–6pm, Wednesday: 10am-6pm, Thursday: 10am-6pm, Friday: 10am-6pm, Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Fakenham Library
    (Monday: 10am–6pm, Tuesday: 10am–6pm, Wednesday: Closed, Thursday: 10am–6pm, Friday: 2–6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm Sunday: Closed)
  • Acle Library
    (Monday: Closed, Tuesday: 10am-6pm, Wednesday: Closed, Thursday: 10am-6pm, Friday: 2pm-6pm, Saturday: 1pm-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Sprowston Library
    (Monday: Closed, Tuesday: 10am-6pm, Wednesday: 10am-6pm, Thursday: 2-6pm, Friday: 10am-6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Great Yarmouth Library
    (Monday - Friday: 10am-6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Wymondham Library
    (Monday - Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Diss Library
    (Monday: 10am-6pm Tuesday: Closed, Wednesday: 10am-6pm, Thursday: 10am-6pm, Friday: 10am-6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Dereham Library
    (Monday - Friday: 9.30am-6pm, Saturday: 9.30am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)
  • Thetford Library
    (Monday - Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sunday: Closed)

There is no “Open Library” access at any library.

Library users will be able to return items via the drop boxes and self-service kiosks at each library and returned items will be quarantined for up to 72 hours.

Items borrowed before closure are still being automatically renewed until further notice and will not be charged any additional overdue or renewal fees. New DVD and talking book loans from 6 July will incur loan charges and repeat fees if returned late.

For any enquiries about the library service, please contact libraries@norfolk.gov.uk.

For further details, including how to access library services from home, see our Coronavirus updates page.

Services available at reopened libraries

Browsing and borrowing: Following a one-way system customers can find the books they want and check them out on their phone using the Spydus app, or use the self-service kiosk.

Select and collect: Pre-order a selection of up to 10 books for adults by using the online form at norfolk.spydus.co.uk or phone 01603 774777. Books will be available within 3 working days (Monday to Friday), or the first day the library is open after that.

Grab & Go book bags for kids: Each bag contains a pre-selected collection of books for kids of different ages. You can check out the entire bag at once using the self-service kiosk.

Computer sessions: One slot per person per day which can be booked by calling 01603 774777. Computer stations will be cleaned between sessions.

Returns: Either posted through the drop-box or via self-service kiosks.

Existing digital offer: This includes ebooks, audiobooks, online newspapers and magazines, online groups (eg bounce and rhyme, virtual reading groups)

Digital library stats in lockdown

Since lockdown started, the digital library service has seen a surge in popularity.

  • 100,000 eBook downloads
  • 750,000 newspaper and magazine articles read
  • More than a million interactions on social media, including Bounce and Rhyme, story time and school readiness sessions, Just a Cuppa virtual drop-in sessions, learning to knit, reading together and connecting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

FAQs

How did you select the libraries you are planning to reopen in July?

Libraries in each local council district have been initially selected based on their location, the size of local communities and the ability to comply with the Government’s guidance.

When might other libraries reopen?

The other libraries will be reopened in stages in the coming weeks and months once the appropriate safety measures have been put in place. The intention is to reopen all sites when it is safe to do so.

Can you say when mobile library services will resume?

The return of rural mobile library services will be in the second phase of re-opening libraries as the spaces are more enclosed.

How will you keep libraries and library books clean, seeing that Covid 19 can be transferred on hard surfaces?

Plans are in place to ‘quarantine’ returned library books for up to 72 hours. Hand sanitiser will be available on entry and exit, surfaces that are commonly touched will be regularly wiped down and social distancing will be in place.

What is happening to other activities that usually take place at libraries, eg community groups and family sessions?

A large number of these activities have already moved online – regular Bounce and Rhyme/Stay and Chat events, Just a Cuppa via Zoom, shared reading groups and support for digital learning.

The library service will continue to develop and deliver these virtually and have plans to help more people get online and be supported to take part.

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