North Yorkshire libraries press ahead with phased reopening

Libraries across North Yorkshire are reopening more outlets and services with customer safety at the forefront.

Cath Jenkinson

Customers can visit, browse for and borrow books in many libraries, and most are offering access to computers, which allow for two-metre social distancing and are cleaned between each use.  

“Some customers thought browsing meant look but not touch, but this isn’t the case,” said County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries. “So we apologise for any confusion. You can now enjoy selecting books to borrow. Many of you have visited, but we know others have not yet done so, so why not put on your face covering, use our hand sanitiser and venture in to see for yourself how safe we have made it for you.”

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. One recent visitor likened the 20 minutes to being like a trolley dash to choose her books.

Harrogate and Pickering libraries are now offering bookable study spaces, and library outlets at Hudson House in Reeth and Goathland are planning to open this month. 

Hudson House will be open between 10am and 3.30pm from Monday to Wednesday, and customers will need to pre-book slots. The Goathland outlet will resume its usual opening hours of 10am to 4pm, with limited numbers allowed at any one time.

Cllr White added: “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 urge customers to check what is available with their local library before visiting.

“We have made changes to the layout 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 have really welcomed being able to browse the shelves and select their own books to borrow. We very much look forward to welcoming a growing number of people over the coming weeks.”

The library service is continuing to provide a Select and Collect service, which enables customers to phone or email their library to request what books they would like, before picking them up.

Full details can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/CovidLibraries. Alternatively, people can call their local library or the library helpline on 01609 533878.

This story was published 3 September 2020