Library customers will be able to browse for their own books from next week in North Yorkshire branches managed by the County Council.
The move is the latest in the phased return of the county’s library services, which so far this month has seen the launch of a select and collect book borrowing service and the return of access to public computers in libraries and the restart of the Home Library Service.
From Monday, 27 July, customers will be allowed into County Council-managed libraries to choose their own books. Arrangements may be different at community-managed libraries, and people should check before visiting.
Numbers allowed into buildings at any one time will be restricted to ensure that social distancing can be maintained. Customers will be asked to limit their visit to 20 minutes so that everyone has a chance to browse during what are still limited opening hours. Customers will also be asked to sanitise their hands on entry.
County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said:
We have been taking a cautious approach to reopening libraries, with the safety of customers, staff and volunteers at the forefront of our minds.
We have made changes to the layout of libraries and put in measures to ensure that it is safe for people to return. It isn’t the full service that people know and love, but this is the next step towards that. Our customers have told us they are really keen to be able to browse the shelves again and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them back into our buildings.
We particularly look forward to seeing some of our younger readers. With the popular Summer Reading Challenge running online this year, we have been worried that children haven’t been able to get hold of the books they want to read for the challenge. As well as being a lot of fun, reading is so important to wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits, too. We are sure that children and families will welcome the chance to get their hands on some new books.
The limited capacity of the buildings means that space cannot yet be provided for people to sit to read newspapers, conduct research or to study.
Cllr White added:
We know this will be frustrating for customers who make use of these services, but ask them to be patient for a little longer. We are working closely with our health and safety team within the council on plans to extend provision further. Libraries have made provision to offer public computer sessions, a service that is a lifeline for many people, and bookable 45-minute slots are available.
Since the launch of the select and collect service on 6 July, more than 12,000 books have been issued, and since the reintroduction of computer sessions on 13 July, more than 550 bookings have been taken.
Libraries have been asked by the Government to collect data for the NHS Test and Trace programme. Although this is voluntary, customers and visitors are encouraged to share their details to support Test and Trace. The information shared will be used only where necessary to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
From Saturday, 25 July, the mobile library will resume services to more rural areas of the county. Limited space on the vehicle means that it can offer only a select and collect service at the moment and the timetable has been changed temporarily. Details of stops and times, as well as how to order books for select and collect, can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/CovidLibraries, where people can also find all details and updates about library services. Alternatively, people can call their local library or the library helpline on 01609 533878.