Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley library buildings will reopen from Monday 7 December, following the end of the national lockdown and the introduction of new Tier 2 (High) restrictions.
All will operate at reduced hours, enabling them to deliver an in-person library service in the safest way possible.
Under current plans, Wokingham Library will be open between 9.30am and 1.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Woodley Library between 9am and 1pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Lower Early between 9.30am and 1.30pm on Monday and Thursday.
This will help staff to safely manage and quarantine books that are returned, which is particularly important as there are currently 32,000 books on loan across the borough.
In November, the council took the decision to close both Wokingham and Woodley library buildings to enable staff members to be redeployed into other statutory services to help manage the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable within our communities.
Following a successful month of effort in these areas during the latest lockdown, some of these staff are now able to return to their substantive roles, whilst others are still directly supporting our most vulnerable residents.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure said: “We are delighted to be re-opening our three largest libraries, enabling us to meet demand and deliver the service as safely as possible. Prior to the national lockdown, our Wokingham and Woodley libraries had been successfully operating with Covid-19 public health measures since re-opening in the summer, and residents were making repeated use of our services.
“We are very pleased to also be re-opening our Lower Earley library, which has been closed since the first national lockdown, and we have a range of measures in place to ensure that all of our libraries are safe places to visit.”
Please note, services are currently limited to the lending library and waste sack collection. Other library services such as computer facilities and events are still unavailable at this time.
In terms of social distancing, all three libraries have one-way systems in place which people must follow, as well as hand sanitiser stations in the entrances for use when entering and leaving the premises.
Face coverings must be worn inside the buildings and visitors should try to minimise their 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.
“For anyone who is unable to visit our libraries once they re-open, we do have a digital service available. This continues to be a popular option and we were very pleased with the uptake of our online offering during lockdown”, says Cllr Parry Batth.
“This includes an expanded range of digital books, magazines, music streaming and virtual events, which are available for residents free of charge.”