READING’S Central Library reopened today (Monday 27 July 2020).
Reading’s Library Service made the important first step towards the welcome return of its popular service, with the safety of the public and staff at the forefront of all reopening plans.
To begin with, the service will be operating at a reduced level to accommodate safety measures.
The Council is urging people to only come to the library if they have booked an appointment in advance. People can now order books online via a click and collect service and collect them at Central Library. To view new opening times and to use the click and collect service, visit www.reading.gov.uk/libraryrestart or call 0118 937 5950 to place an order.
Access to book collections and to the building will now be via the rear entrance on Abbey Square with the exit onto Kings Road. The lift will be available inside, so everything within the library is fully accessible.
For safety, at present, there will be no access to browse shelves or newspapers, use toilets, access WIFI or use study spaces. It is hoped these services will be reintroduced as soon as it is safe to do so.
There will be some limited access to computers – which can be booked in advance via 0118 937 5950. Some computers have been turned off to allow for a 2m distance and keyboards will also be cleaned between appointments.
Visa appointments will resume from 3 August.
To keep everyone safe library customers are asked to please:
- do not visit us if you are feeling unwell or have any coronavirus symptoms (new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell)
- only come if you have booked via www.reading.gov.uk/libraryrestart or 0118 937 5950
- help everyone maintain a minimum 2m distance
- be patient if you need to queue
- use the hand sanitiser provided and wash your hands before and after your visit
- wear a face covering if you can. It is not mandatory, but contributes to protecting others
- ensure children are accompanied and closely supervised by an adult
Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s lead councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I am thrilled our much-loved Central Library is now open for bookings. Whilst this is excellent news and an important step on our journey to recovery, we must, however, emphasise it will not represent a return to normality for some time to come, with the service operating at a reduced level to accommodate safety measures.
“The safety of the public and our staff remains our top priority – so I’d like to urge everyone to please make a booking ahead of visiting the library at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryrestart or by calling 0118 937 5950 to avoid disappointment. It is fantastic we can start to phase back in access to select and return books, use computers and access the visa service. A number of other services will, unfortunately, have to wait for now – such as browsing books and newspapers, using study areas, WIFI and toilets. We hope to reintroduce them as soon as possible.
“Our other branches remain temporarily closed for now, but we are working hard to reopen them all as soon as possible. We need to be absolutely confident every preventative measure against the virus has been carefully thought out and implemented, to prevent any local resurgence originating at these locations. Don’t worry if you still have items outstanding. We estimate we have over 17,000 books still out in the community! We thank everyone for taking good care of them and we’ve extended all return dates. The Central Library book drop facility is open if you are able to access it.
“If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the library’s online offering at www.reading.gov.uk/elibrary – the library is constantly curating and recommending new material and research pertinent to current issues. It also has very lively social media channels that are very worthy of following.”
The library’s regular events and children’s activities will also remain on hold for now.
All other branches remain temporarily closed, but plans are being worked on to open them as soon as possible. Borrowed items are not due back until all branches are open but the Central Library book drop is available.
The home library service is also restarting. Customers will be contacted over the next few weeks to arrange visits.
Watch a video here about what to expect on your visit: