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Following careful consideration and Government guidance on Coronavirus, all Essex libraries and mobile libraries will be closed until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience and will let you know as soon as normal service resumes. Find out more in our news story.

Frequently asked questions.

Coronavirus and libraries FAQs

For the latest updates on government announcements and changes to council services in response to Coronavirus please see our Coronavirus updates page.


How long will the library be closed for?

At this stage we don’t know. We’ll be guided by advice from the Government and will take appropriate actions and keep you informed as we know more.

My books are due for return soon, how can I renew?

All items are being extended until the end of July, so you don’t need to renew.

My account hasn’t been updated yet with an extended loan period – what do I do?

You do not need to do anything. Please bear with us whilst we process all these changes.

Will I be fined for any overdue books?

No, you won’t. Overdue charges will be automatically waived.

Can I return books via a book drop/letterbox?

Please keep hold of your library items until the library re-opens – do not use book drops or letterboxes to return items as all buildings are closed.

Why can’t I reserve a book?

Reservations are suspended because there are no staff at libraries to process them.

What about registrations appointments?

Due to the closure of libraries, only three registration offices remain open: Chelmsford, Colchester and Harlow. Our online booking system has been amended to reflect this.

Please see the Registrations website for more information.


How do I join online?

You can join the library online on our catalogue website.

Please verify your account by clicking the link in the email you receive to confirm your registration.

You can use the online library without having to collect a membership card from a library, see ‘what resources are available from home?’ below.

What is my PIN/password?

The default PIN is your date of birth in a DDMMYY format.

What resources are available from home?

With your library membership you can access reading resources, learning materials and reference resources online 24/7.

We have thousands of e-books, e-audiobooks, e-comics, e-magazines and e-newspapers available through Borrowbox, RBdigital and PressReader.

We’re currently buying more titles for our eLibrary to give you more choice. We’re working with our suppliers to enable new customers joining online to access these services quickly and without needing to collect a library card from a library. New online members can now use RBdigital and Borrowbox with their online membership number.

We have Facebook and Twitter channels, and a newsletter for regular updated information.

What other resources will you be making available from home?

We’re currently working with our suppliers to extend the range of resources you can use from home and will keep the website updated as more become available.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or sign up to our newsletter for regular updated information.

We’re also updating our website for links to more free resources that don’t require a library card to login.

How do I use e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, e-newspapers and e-comics?

Guidance can be found on our e-books and e-magazines, e-comics and e-newspapers pages.

Why is there a queue for the e-book / e-audiobook I want?

Due to licensing restrictions many titles are limited to one user per copy but we’re buying more titles to provide you with more choice. We’re also buying more titles that have unlimited access.

I’ve tried to use Borrowbox with an online membership number and it doesn’t work.

There may be an overnight delay between verifying your account on the email you receive when joining the library service and being able to access Borrowbox.


Page updated: 27 March 2020.

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