TWO of the borough’s libraries will reopen – with limited hours – from Monday.
Wokingham and Woodley residents will be able to return and borrow books, but other services are currently on hold.
Wokingham Borough Council said that they are following a roadmap of phased re-openings from August 3, which means reduced opening hours and strict Covid-19 public health measures to ensure it is safe for public and staff.
Wokingham Library in Denmark Street will be open from 9.30am to 1.30pm on weekdays, and Woodley Library, from 9am to 1pm, also on weekdays.
They will be open purely for returning and borrowing books with other services such as public computer use, study space, and newspaper and magazine browsing not available.
Hand sanitiser stations will be in position at the entrances to Wokingham and Woodley for people to use as they enter and leave, and face coverings must be worn inside the buildings. One-way systems around the libraries have been introduced, and must be followed, and social distancing maintained at all times.
The council also urges people to minimise handling of books while browsing. If a book is touched, but not booked out, it must be taken to the returned books area where it will be put into quarantine for 72 hours before it can be returned to the shelves.
All books being returned to the libraries will need to be quarantined in this way. There are currently 37,000 books and other items out on loan but as overdue charges are currently suspended there is no need to rush to return books straight away.
The council hopes to reopen other branches and increase opening hours in the weeks ahead, but this will depend on the latest safety information.
“Libraries are such rich and vibrant community focal points so their closure these past few months has been sorely felt by everyone,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.
“Our library staff have been working hard behind the scenes to get Wokingham and Woodley ready for next Monday. We listened to your concerns in our libraries reopening survey about interaction with other people and library book cleanliness and the new Covid-19 measures we’re introducing reflect these. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
He added: “These new measures are there for your safety and to also give you confidence to once again access and enjoy what our libraries have to offer you.
“Remember, of course, you can still use our online services for e-books and audio, and search our catalogue although this will always lag by 72 hours until returned items go back on the shelves. And many events and groups that moved online during lockdown are still happening there.”
To find out about online services and events visit: https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/