Free Books Hatfield puts safety first before reopening goes ahead

Hatfield Free Books has still not reopened since lockdown. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hatfield Free Books has still not reopened since lockdown. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Months after shops were allowed to open, the trustees of a Hatfield bookshop – which makes its stock freely available to the public – are still working on a plan to enable them to reopen safely to the public.

The trustees of Free Books Hatfield, based at the Galleria, explained they share the frustrations of the Hatfield community but do not expect to be back before September.

Pete Hill, chair of Free Books Hatfield, said: “Whilst we have all been frustrated by the current situation you’ll appreciate that being a totally voluntary organisation the safety of our customers and volunteers is paramount.

“Unlike many charity shops we have no paid staff, our volunteers only attending once or twice a week. This poses its own challenge in ensuring new procedures are fully understood and adhered to.

“One of the great attractions of our shop is that it provides customers with a full browsing experience. We have no inventory of which books we stock so it really is case of seeing if you can find something you like.

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“Unfortunately COVID-19 provides a particular challenge in this area as there is a chance the virus could be spread by handling our books. Many bookshops have the space and management structure to allow them to quarantine handled books sadly we are unable to do this. This also means that if we do re-open we will be unable to accept book donations for some time.

“We have two main sources of volunteers the University of Hertfordshire and local people who have retired. The situation with the university is a fluid one as to whether students will return while a number of our other volunteers because of their age fall into the vulnerable category for COVID-19.”

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Currently, UoH expects its students to return to in-person teaching in September – with face coverings – but will conduct some lessons online.

Mr Hill added: “We are hopeful that we will be able to overcome these challenges in time. It’s also very heartening for all our volunteers to know that we are being missed by the community. I’m sure though in these unprecedented times they will agree that safety has to come first.”

All three Isabel Hospice charity shops have reopened in Hatfield, and one in WGC, while the Willow Foundation is back in WGC and Hatfield.

If you want to volunteer for Free Books Hatfield please email

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