Throughout this pandemic, Libraries Connected has kept the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and library users at the centre of its decision making. We have worked with our members, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive to help library services to decide how and when to reopen safely.
In practice, this means that all decisions on services should be driven by a comprehensive risk assessment carried out with staff and unions. This should also include individual risk assessments, where appropriate, that reflect the specific circumstances of individual staff.
Libraries have worked incredibly hard during this crisis to adapt their buildings and services to create a safe environment for their staff and their users. As a result, we believe that they are best placed to decide which services they deliver, based on local risk assessments, local need and available resources. The government regulations are designed to inform and support this local decision making.
Since March, we have also worked continually with DCMS to ensure that libraries are recognised for the essential services that they provide to their communities during periods of lockdown and beyond. Government guidance now expressly acknowledges the importance of library services such as home book delivery, PC access and study areas to local residents.
Having library workers declared as key workers is also an important step towards ensuring that the many services that libraries deliver to communities is better understood and valued. The situation is fluid and fast changing, so we are committed to continue our support to library services by monitoring the situation, liaising with central government, and providing libraries with up-to-date information and guidance so that they can make the best decisions for their staff and their communities.
We also want to take this opportunity to recognise all the wonderful library teams around the country who have worked so hard to deliver online and in person services to support their communities throughout the pandemic.