FIVE of the county’s libraries will reopen from July 13 following a change in the Government guidance.
Crowborough, Battle, Newhaven, Eastbourne and Hastings libraries will offer a restricted service, with limited numbers of people allowed in at any one time.
In order to enable social distancing, library layouts have been reconfigured meaning there will be fewer books available to borrow. However, a ‘select and collect’ service will be in place to allow library members to choose up to 20 books online or by calling the library service, enabling them to be collected quickly and easily from one of the reopened libraries.
A limited number of computers will be available to book for 45-minute sessions.
Existing and new library loans will be automatically extended until September 30 and there will no charges or fines during this period.
Cllr Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for communities, said: “The libraries that will reopen have been chosen for their size, layout and accessibility and we have ensured there is one in every district and borough.
“While we know how much people have missed using our libraries whilst they have been closed, we’d still encourage people to continue to use our eLibrary where they can so that we can manage customer numbers safely.
“We have a great online service with a huge variety of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eComics and eMagazines all available from home and free of charge without having to visit a library building.”
A range of measures have been put in place to keep customers and staff as safe as possible in library buildings.
Clear screens will cover library counters, hand sanitiser will be placed at the library entrance and there will be enhanced and more regular cleaning. Markers and signage will help customers to maintain social distancing and stay safe.
In line with Government guidance, visitors will be asked for their name and phone number at the time they go into the library. This information may be shared with the NHS test and trace programme if needed. All returned books will also be quarantined in line with the latest Government guidance.
Newspapers, DVDs, periodicals and the photocopying service will not be available. There will be no access to study space or reference materials and toilet facilities will remain closed.
Cllr Bentley added: “We are hoping to be able to open more of our libraries and increase the range of services on offer later in the summer and in the autumn where it is safe for us to do so, and we will announce more information when a decision is made.”
The five libraries reopening will close 30 minutes to an hour earlier than normal each day to allow staff time to restock for the following day. A full list of opening hours is available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries