Like many other council services, Essex County Council is now preparing a phased approach to re-open libraries in line with Government guidelines.
From Monday 6 July 2020, sixteen sites will re-open; Basildon, Billericay, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Dunmow, Epping, Harlow, Harwich, Maldon, Rayleigh, Rochford, South Benfleet and Witham. The initial sixteen sites re-opening were selected as they also provide Registration Services, and therefore allow this important service to be more easily delivered too.
Essex Libraries initial site re-openings are in line with other Counties, and the schedule avoids the initial expected increase in travel as non-essential shops begin to open during Mid-June.
Further library sites will re-open in tranches as they are made safe and ready, staff are available, given shielding and support requirements, and they have finished assisting with vital redeployment activities being provided to the most vulnerable people; with as many as possible opening by Mid-August 2020.
The safety of our staff and customers is paramount, and all libraries will be prepared, and risk assessed before they reopen to allow customers and staff to maintain social distancing and stay safe. Once open, regular cleaning measures will be in place.
To begin with, the service offered will be limited: but, we are looking forward to welcoming customers again, and they will be able to return and borrow books, as well as have some limited time to browse the shelves. In line with government guidance, the number of customers allowed in a library at any one time will need to be reduced to help people stay safe, but we will ensure you are looked after and receive a warm welcome back.
To help us work safely, customers will be asked to use the self-service machines to issue and return their items and to pay any charges. Public computers, printing facilities and additional services such as recycling bags will be temporarily unavailable, but, these services will be reviewed frequently so that they can be offered again as soon as it is safe to do so.
Colleagues, many of who have been redeployed during the COVID 19 situation, look forward to seeing customers again, but also encourage customers to continue to use the library digital reading and online services where possible.
Councillor Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer, Corporate, Culture and Communities said: "We are keen to re-open libraries when we can, but libraries are open access public areas and the safety of customers and staff is paramount. More libraries will re-open when we are confident we can do so safely. We would encourage everyone to continue to use the online library resources which have proved to be a big hit with the residents of Essex in these uncertain times.”
Updates will be published on our website, on social media and in customer newsletters.