Computers and home delivery as libraries continue phased return

Libraries in North Yorkshire will continue the phased return of services next week, with sessions on public computers being bookable at some branches and the restart of the Home Library Service.

Returning book s in libraries

This follows the successful launch this week of 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.

From Monday, 13 July, libraries managed by North Yorkshire County Council at Scarborough, Harrogate, Malton, Whitby, Pickering, Filey and Skipton will offer limited access to public computers. Ripon, Selby, Northallerton, Knaresborough and Richmond will follow suit on 20 July.

Computers will be placed to allow for two-metre social distancing and will be cleaned between each use. The number of computers available at each library will be reduced because of this safety measure, so people must contact their library to check availability before visiting.

Computer sessions may be limited to 45 minutes and must be booked by calling or emailing the library in advance. If people think they may need extra time, they should discuss this with staff. To minimise risk, there will be no cash transactions at this time, so people wanting print-outs can have five A4 copies for free. Donations for any further copies would be welcomed.

Unfortunately, due to the need for social distancing, the library teams will not be able to offer computer support.  

Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “We know that many people rely on the computer facilities at libraries, so we want to make them available, where we can. Safety of customers, staff and our volunteers are our primary concern, so there won’t be as many PCs available and, unfortunately, we won’t be able to provide the help that people are used to.

“I am pleased, though, that we are able to offer this reduced service, which is another step towards getting our libraries fully open again.”

Community-managed libraries across North Yorkshire also offer computer facilities. People should check with their local library to see what arrangements are in place and for their opening hours.

Also restarting from 13 July is the Home Library Service. Before lockdown, the library service was delivering books to more than 1,600 people across the county. All customers have been contacted to make sure they still want to receive the service and volunteers are gearing up to start getting books out to them again.

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.”

The service will feel a little different. To allow for social distancing and for customer and volunteer safety, books will be placed on the doorstep rather than carried inside.

Some people who are self-isolating or still shielding, but are not customers of the Home Library Service, may want to receive books at home. Find out how to sign up, or call your local library.

Cllr White said: “The Home Library Service is a lifeline to so many people in our communities and we have been concerned that we haven’t been able to provide it over the lockdown. Our teams have been keeping in regular contact with our customers, checking that they are OK, and the dedicated volunteers are really keen to start deliveries again.”

All library members can continue to take advantage of the free Select and Collect service. They can call or email their local library to request the kind of books they like. A member of the library team will hand-pick a selection, then contact the customer to arrange a convenient time for them to collect the books from the library entrance. As usual, books can be borrowed for up to three weeks.

Customers can also use a “library takeaway” service, which offers specially selected book bundles to borrow. There is a menu to choose from each week with details on local library Facebook pages. People can also return books, but have until 1 September to return any items borrowed before lockdown without accruing fines. Returned books are quarantined for three days.

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.”

Tom Bamford, Library Assistant from 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.”

Satisfied customer 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.”

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

All details and updates can be found on our Covid library page, Alternatively, if people have queries they can call their local library or the library helpline number, 01609 533878.

This story was published 8 July 2020