Customers and staff welcome libraries’ phased return

Library customers and staff have welcomed the start of a return to book borrowing in North Yorkshire – as libraries prepare for the next phase of their reopening.

This week, County Council-managed libraries launched a Select and Collect service, which enables customers to phone or email their library to request the type of books they want, then later collect a selection hand-picked by a member of the library team.

This will be followed on Monday, 13 July, when libraries managed by the County Council at Scarborough, Harrogate, Malton, Whitby, Pickering, Filey and Skipton will start to offer limited access to public computers. Ripon, Selby, Northallerton, Knaresborough and Richmond will follow suit on 20 July.

The Home Library Service will also restart from 13 July, with volunteers resuming deliveries of books to people across the county who cannot get to their library themselves.

The aim is that from the end of July customers will be able to browse and pick their own books.

In the meantime, the first week of the Select and Collect service has gone well.

Jane Lillford, library assistant at Selby, said: “It’s been really busy so far, but everyone is incredibly positive about the service. I’ve received some really nice comments from customers about being able to get some new books to read. Though most people have been more concerned about how the team have been while we were closed!”

Colleague James Nicol, library supervisor, added: “The phone has been ringing constantly with people wanting to know more about the new service, it’s been fantastic so far! We’ve managed to fill everyone’s orders and already have over 13 crates of returned items!”

On the coast, Dee Johnston, library supervisor at Scarborough, said: “We had around 25 reservations and managed to fill 14 boxes of returns at Scarborough library. Most of our customers were just happy to return their books and know that the library is on its way to reopening up soon for browsing.”

And Tom Bamford, library assistant at Harrogate, added: “We’re making an effort to reconnect with the community and giving them much-needed entertainment. It’s always nice to have the option of borrowing some new books.”

Customers have offered their praise, too.

Caris Kingham posted on Skipton library’s Facebook page: “Thank you so much for our new books. It was a privilege to be your first customers. We are enjoying reading our new books today. We love Skipton library.”

And Kirstie Long, who visited Whitby library to collect books for her children, Valentine and Winnie, wrote on the library’s Facebook page: “It was so safe and well organised. The kids are absolutely delighted as they have read me out of house and home! Love the library, they have given us some great new material to sink our teeth into!”

From 13 July, public computers will be bookable. Social distancing measures mean fewer computers will be available, so people must call or email their library to book. Computer sessions may be limited to 45 minutes. Community-managed libraries also offer computer facilities. People should check with their local library to see what arrangements are in place.

Also restarting from 13 July is the Home Library Service. Before lockdown, this volunteer service was delivering books to more than 1,600 people. To allow for social distancing, books will be placed on the doorstep rather than carried inside. Sign up for this service online , or call your local library.

Cecily Simpson, a home library service volunteer co-ordinator working with Scarborough library, said: “It is a very welcome service for a range of people who are housebound, not necessarily because of their age, and for carers who can’t get out to choose their own library books. I have received comments that people are really missing it. I think because we look after set groups of people a relationship does form. For some people, particularly if they feel isolated or lonely, we are another person who can offer conversation.”

See details of library services here. Alternatively, people can call their local library or 01609 533878.