STAFFORDSHIRE libraries are putting plans in place to reopen when conditions allow.
Although the date when library buildings can reopen has not yet been confirmed by the Government, libraries directly managed by Staffordshire County Council will open first in phases, with the Community Managed Libraries (CMLs) following suit.
Hand sanitising, hygiene and social distancing arrangements are being prepared to ensure safe opening at all 43 libraries and if Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary it will be distributed to staff and volunteers where appropriate.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “Our library staff have been magnificent during the Coronavirus crisis volunteering to distribute food parcels and PPE, staffing our coronavirus call centre and checking on vulnerable isolators and now they’re keen to get back to the day job.
“All libraries will have safety arrangements in place regarding social distancing, hand sanitising and we may have to impose a maximum number of visitors at any one time.
“Some features, such as the computers and 3D printers will stay switched off for the moment and toilets will remain closed too for the time being.
“This will not be a return to normality, but it’s a step in the right direction and we will still need people to use common sense and observe the spirit of social distancing when they visit.”
The County Council has been in regular contact with the 27 CMLs during closure and is sharing reopening plans so that all libraries have the same procedures in place to protect staff, volunteers and borrowers alike.
CMLs have been told they can reopen at their own pace and will be supported by county council staff throughout the process.
Gill Heath added: “As well as lending books our Community Managed Libraries are a focal point in their communities for a wide range of activities and I know they are keen to carry on their good work once it’s safe to do so.
“We will be supporting all 27 and ensuring appropriate equipment will be available for them where necessary.
Staffordshire libraries already have a ‘home delivery’ service for those unable to visit and that is being extended to include those who are currently isolating and prefer physical books to the council’s online service ‘Borrowbox’.
Gill Heath added: “Unsurprisingly use of our online service has soared in recent weeks and is still in great demand.
“Unfortunately, it is still too early for the mobile service to resume, as we cannot guarantee the safety of staff and users, but now we can also offer a safe delivery to those who are still isolating.
“If anyone wants to make use of it they should email us here.”