Three-quarters of libraries in County Durham to reopen for browsing
Bookworms will once again be able to browse the shelves of County Durham libraries from next week.
The participating libraries will also be offering internet access via its public computers.
The move will also see the end of our successful Pick and Collect service, which was introduced in July to ensure people could still borrow books while libraries were closed. More than 15,000 titles have been borrowed through the service during the past two months.
The libraries reopening on Monday 14 September include all 19 currently offering Pick and Collect. These are Barnard Castle; Wolsingham; Chester-le-Street; Consett; Stanley; Crook; Newton Aycliffe; Peterlee; Seaham; Easington; Sedgefield; Shildon; Spennymoor; Thornley; Woodhouse Close and Bishop Auckland Town Hall, in Bishop Auckland; and Belmont, Clayport and Newton Hall, in Durham.
In addition, libraries at Bowburn; Blackhall; Brandon; Chilton; Cornforth; Lanchester; Langley Park; Murton; Trimdon and Wingate will also be opening on Monday.
Safety measures in place
Work has been carried out by the council's building and facilities maintenance team to put measures in place to make the venues as safe as possible. Weekly checks will be carried out and any changes implemented where necessary to keep people safe and in response to any modification to Government guidelines.Cllr Joy Allen, our Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: "We are delighted to be able to reopen 29 of our 39 libraries across the county and welcome back our customers.
"Our Pick and collect has been well received, enabling us to provide more than 15,000 books to readers since July but there is no substitute to being able to browse the shelves for yourself.
"We have, of course, taken measures to ensure customers are able to return to libraries safely, so things may look a little different and some services will not operate when we initially reopen.
"However, we are working hard to reintroduce as many well-loved features as we can as soon as possible."
Library opening hours may differ at each library and will not be in line with their former opening hours. Anyone can become a member of the library service by visiting Library Online or calling one of the libraries that are reopening.
For more information, including contact details for participating libraries, visit the Libraries page or call 03000 260 000.
Boost the economy
It is hoped that the reopening of libraries will encourage more people to visit the county's towns and villages, supporting local businesses and helping towards the county's economic recovery from coronavirus.
The libraries reopening next week have been selected because they are the council's busiest sites, and because they offer sufficient space to provide the essential elements for safe browsing and safe computer use. This includes space for visitors to queue safely before entering the building and for a quarantine area for returned books.
They also provide a good geographical spread of locations around the county.
All other library services, including printing, photocopying, study tables, easy seating and soft furnishings, children's toys and jigsaws; along with meeting rooms, community room access and events, will remain suspended for the time being although the council is currently looking at how these services can be reinstated over the coming weeks.
Keeping the county reading
Libraries across the country were forced to close in March in response to Government guidance on preventing the spread of coronavirus. Since then, library users in County Durham have been able to access online services, with an extended digital offer including more eBooks, eMagazines and eAudiobook titles and free access to research tool Ancestry.
Almost 2,000 people have joined or re-joined to use our online library services, with the number of people registered to use BorrowBox to access eBbooks and eAudiobooks having increased by more than 3,000.
These services will continue alongside Doorstep Book Delivery service, which was introduced during the lockdown period to provide books for isolated and vulnerable Books on Wheels library users.