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Staffordshire libraries begin phased reopening

By Jordan Reynolds | Stafford | Politics | Published:

Staffordshire’s 43 libraries will begin a phased reopening from July 6.

Councillor Gill Heath at Stafford Library

Stafford, Newcastle and Burton libraries will open on the July 6, with the other 13 managed directly by the county council following two and three weeks later.

Community-managed libraries are being fully supported by the county council and are being encouraged to reopen at their own pace.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “This is not a return to normality, but a welcome step towards it as we begin to carefully reopen much-loved library buildings.

“Hand sanitising, hygiene and social distancing arrangements will all be in place and if personal protective equipment is necessary it will be distributed to staff and volunteers where appropriate.

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“We will be running an ‘order and collect’ service to start with – so no browsing - and there will be limited numbers of visitors allowed in at any one time.”

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Meeting rooms will remain closed and there will be no access to toilets, PCs, printers, photocopiers, or bus pass renewals in person.

Although there will be no physical events or activities in the buildings, the service’s online service and social media engagement will continue.

Carefully

Cannock, Leek, Lichfield, Perton and Tamworth libraries will open on July 20, with Biddulph, Burntwood, Codsall, Kidsgrove, Rugeley, Stone, Uttoxeter and Wombourne scheduled for July 27.

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All libraries will initially open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturday.

Councillor Heath added: “We need to go about this carefully to ensure users, volunteers and staff are safe and people will need to use common sense and observe the spirit of social distancing when they visit.

“We are opening three larger libraries first to see how all the safety measures work in practise before incorporating any lessons into the gradual opening of the remainder.

“We have been communicating with the 27 community managed libraries during closure and are sharing reopening plans so that all our libraries have the same procedures in place.”

“We are supporting them throughout the process and expect them to begin reopening from August onwards.”

Staffordshire libraries already have a ‘home delivery’ service for those unable to visit and that is being extended to include those who are currently isolating and prefer physical books to the council’s online service ‘Borrowbox’. Visit staffordshire.gov.uk/Libraries

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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