Browsing returns to Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and St Albans libraries

Welwyn Garden City Library has reopened along with Stevenage and St Albans. Picture: WGC Library

Welwyn Garden City Library has reopened along with Stevenage and St Albans. Picture: WGC Library - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire libraries have announced the next phase of reopening plans which will see 13 of the county’s libraries allow customers to browse bookshelves for 15 minutes.

From Monday 3 August, services will be extended at St Albans, Stevenage Central, Watford Central and Welwyn Garden City Campus West libraries, with plans also in place to re-open further libraries in the coming weeks.

Hertfordshire county councillor Terry Douris, cabinet member for libraries, said: “I am sure that the news of these libraries re-opening will be welcomed by library visitors who I know have missed the opportunity to choose their own books. The extension of this to provide computer access to people who may have had little or no opportunity to access online services during lockdown will contribute to our economic recovery and is an important step towards resuming our wider library offer.”

Visitors will be able enter the library for up to 15 minutes to browse the bookshelves and to use the self-service kiosks for borrowing and returning items. Social distancing measures will be in place including queue management, screens on enquiry desks, hand sanitiser stations and quarantine areas for returned books. Customers will also be encouraged to wear face coverings during their visit.

In addition, the People’s Network computers will be available in one-hour slots for customers who have made a booking in advance. There will be 15 minutes between bookings to allow for cleaning.

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However library users won’t be able to use seating areas, access study spaces, access toilet facilities, make long or complex enquiries (these will be referred to appropriate teams), use a PC without booking, pay for additional PC time, access Wi-Fi, read newspapers or periodicals and participate in group activities.

Opening hours will be 10am-4pm to allow for additional cleaning and to enable staff to re-stock the shelves.

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Further libraries such as Harpenden, Hatfield, Hitchin and Royston will open in the next few weeks.

This news follows the successful launch of the Ready Reads service at the start of July, offering book packs selected by library staff, which will continue.

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