Following the recent government announcements easing lockdown, plans have been devised for a phased reopening of libraries in Walsall. The planning has being carefully focussed around the safety of library staff, volunteers and visitors to the libraries.
Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture said:
“We have worked hard to provide an enhanced digital offer during lockdown, including investing more in eBooks & eAudiobooks to reflect growth in the use of the service and to increase its quality and range as well as adding a range of popular and quality eMagazines, eComics & graphic novels, to provide as full a library service as possible in a way that can be accessed 24/7 online.
“However, I know how well-loved our libraries are and that our residents are keen to return once the doors are open. Our focus is on proceeding very carefully and safely and staying in step with our neighbouring authorities. Officers are adhering to official guidance and recommended best practice and risk assessments have taken place for each library site. We are adopting a phased approach and will seek to learn from both our own pilots and the emerging national picture.”
The first phase is due to start on Monday 6 July, where most library foyers will be open to enable book return on week days only from 10am to 4pm. It is not possible to provide this service at Streetly community library, as it does not have a sealed foyer. At the Lichfield Street Hub book returns can be made in the Council House Foyer.
The next phase will be the introduction, on 13 July, of a ‘Ring and Read’ service, where library users can get in touch to indicate the types of books they like, which staff will then select and bag up, to minimise social contact. Customers will be able to start collecting their bagged selection from 20 July. This will be a pilot service taking place initially at Bloxwich District Library and the Lichfield Street Hub in Walsall town centre. If successful, the service will then be extended to all libraries.
Councillor Perry added:
“In August, we will be introducing ‘Grab and Go’, whereby small numbers of library users at a time will be allowed to access library bookshelves and RFID terminals only and with a limited amount of time on site.”
“Unfortunately the mobile library service is not currently able to operate as physical distancing is not possible, but there will be a “Ring and Read” service option for collection from some, but not all, of the mobile library stops.
“Additionally the Home Library Service will start non-contact delivery to homes on 20 July.”
Notes to Editor
There are seven libraries in Walsall:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be issued to staff as required.
The first phase of opening up foyers to return books will enable the quarantine of books for 72 hours and reduce the amount of books being brought back once the ‘Ring & Read’ phase commences. It will also enable stocks to be built up at each site to deliver ‘Ring & Read’.
When the libraries open for ‘Grab and Go’, numbers of customers allowed on site will be limited and they will only be allowed on site for up to 20 minutes. There will be signage on site indicating any one way systems and encouraging social distancing.
More detailed information will shortly be available at https://go.walsall.gov.uk/walsalllibraries/
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